Monday, April 22, 2019

How to Handle Dropship Returns?

The major tasks for dropshipping include processing orders, inventory, and delivery.  One of the measurements of success in dropshipping aside from the profit you generate from the sales is being able to manage customer queries.  Now, if we further drill drown, under customer queries would be handling returns. Returns, if not handled well could be a huge disaster for the business.  

How do we handle dropship returns?  When the customer receives the item, checks it was not the correct item, defective, or did not match the item description, the customer will initiate a return.  The supplier will approve the return and check the item that was returned. The customer will either get a refund or receive a new item.

Understanding the Customers
What the customers say is significant for our business.  Knowing that our medium deals primarily using the internet, having negative comments from customers would easily spread out, in return will impact our business.  Same is true when we get good feedback from our customers, other potential customers will be engaged to do business with us. With this in mind, we have to understand what makes the customers happy or dissatisfied.  

With dropshipping, we not only process the orders of our customers.  We want to ensure that the orders are processed in a timely manner, processed correctly, shipped with the right quality, and with the right the description, and should not be damaged.  In a perfect world, we can be sure that one hundred percent of the time, our products are shipped with accuracy. But, we know that there are external factors to consider which may be affecting the entire process of dropshipping.  

With that said, in this business, we should know how to handle queries such as handling returns.  One of the things you need to establish is the reason why a return is necessary.

Incorrect item shipped.  When we talk about incorrect item shipped, this could mean a lot of things.  It could be the item was shipped in a wrong color, size or quantity. It may be a totally different item was sent to the customer.  To minimize having incorrect product shipment, there should be a quality check on order processing. 

Defective or damaged.  As was mentioned earlier, there are external factors that may affect the products.  It could be the packaging, the shipping, or handling of the products. In dropshipping, we cannot really guarantee 100% that we do not have misses on this.  It is equally important to do quality checks on the packaging to minimize the risk of having defective items. 

Low quality or incorrect item description.  This means that the product the customer was expecting was totally different from what was described online.  For dropshipping, the customers rely mostly on the description that was posted online. There’s no other way to determine if the matches the quality they were expecting until the item has reached the customer.  To avoid returns for the reason of incorrect item description, then it is the job of the drop shipper to make sure the accuracy of the description particularly to the color, weight, dimension, sizes, features, etc.

Guidelines When Processing Returns:
In every business, there should be a contingency plan.  Handling returns can be considered a contingency plan for the purpose of keeping customers and gaining more customers.  There should be a process in place when processing returns for the customers. We do not only maintain a good customer relationship, but we also maintain a good relationship with our suppliers.  Your dropshipping business’ return policy should be aligned with your suppliers’. Your return policy should meet the following:  

Fees associated with returns.  When a customer determines that the item is deemed to be returned, part of the process is to ship the item back to the supplier.  A dropshipper should be aligned with the suppliers' policy on fees. Who will carry the shipping fee, is it the supplier or the customer?  In most cases, the shipping fee is shouldered by the supplier.

Timeline for return.  We want to set a timeline as to how long can a customer initiate a return.  This way, we are certain that the items subject for return has not been tampered before returning to the suppliers.  Generally, suppliers set a return timetable of seven up to thirty days, depending on the location, type of product, and efficiency of the product.  For us, if the supplier’s set a timeline for the 30-day return policy, then we adjust our timetable to 14 days. This allows time for us to do a quality check on the item that was returned to us.

Tracking number for returns.  We want to keep good business with customers, which is equally essential when thinking about our suppliers.  Hence, we should only process returns with tracking numbers provided by our company. When the customer contacts us for the return, we want to own the concern and as much as possible, make a resolution.  A tracking number is one way to counter check the items before returning them to the supplier.

Step by Step process in Handling Returns:
You already understand why the customers are returning the products.  You also have a guide in processing returns. Now as we move on, let us talk about the process itself.

Customer verification.  When a customer purchases the item, he will be given a timeframe as to when he is expecting to get the product.  Once the product reaches our customer, obviously he will check the quality of the item. If in any case, it fails to meet the customer’s standards’ (damaged, wrong item, incorrect description, poor quality) he will initiate a return.

Customer contact or query.  The customer contacts us to inform us about the condition of the product.  As the dropshipper, we have to determine the condition of the product. We apologize and assure that we will do the necessary actions to address the error.  At this point, you should give options to your customer to either process a replacement or request for a refund.

Confirmation of Return.  If the condition of the product met the guidelines for return items, we will give a tracking number and instructions on how to ship the item back to us. You will check the quality and condition of the item.

Completion of Return.  Once the supplier approves, they will initiate a refund, or replace the item and send it the customer.  Complete the documentation for your records.

Related Questions:

What are the common dropshipping problems?

  • Although there have been improvements and ways to be an effective dropshipper, these are the common challenges encountered in dropshipping:
  • Out of stock
  • Order delays
  • Wrong item sent to the customer
  • Incorrect quantity delivered
  • Wrong billing made
  • Confused orders
  • Items sent to a wrong address
  • Invalid tracking code
Dropshipping Tips for new entrepreneurs:
We know that dropshipping is easy to start, low cost and automated.  Here are some tips for newcomers to the dropshipping world:
  • Choose the right product
  • Find a reliable supplier
  • Invest your time in marketing
  • Handle customer service concerns smoothly
  • Automate your dropshipping
  • Keep an eye to your competition
How to build a good relationship with suppliers?
Building a good relationship with suppliers is important. You will have regular transactions with them hence the importance of having a good connection with them.
  • Be fair but firm with them.
  • Address any issues with your suppliers as they arise.
  • Talk to your suppliers regularly.
  • Pay your suppliers' promptly.

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