Monday, July 22, 2019

Who Pays for the Shipping on Returned Items?

On our previous post about Dropshipping - What should I Do If Wrong Item Was Sent to Customer, it tackles about the different issues and concerns encountered by a dropshipper.  A question that aroused was the one responsible to pay for the shipment return. Which we will gladly discuss today. 


Now talking about shipping, who pays for the shipping on the returned items?  In paying for the shipping on returned items, there are three things to consider.  
  • Is it the supplier’s fault why there is a need to return an item?
  • Is the customer requesting to return because of a wrong order, changed his mind or failed to read the product description?
  • Is the price of the item more or less expensive than the shipping fee?
How To Determine Who Pays for the Shipping on Returned Items


Always Ask Relevant Questions to the Customer
The first thing you need to do to determine who pays for the shipping on returned items would be why is there a need for returns.  On our post, How to Handle Dropship Returns we have discussed the guidelines when processing returns.  Knowing why the customer is asking to return the item is very important.  This is the basis to know who pays for the shipping fees.  


There are circumstances when customers are asking for return because of the following reasons.  


Defective Item/ Incorrect Order Received
  • If a customer contacts you saying that the item they receive is either defective or was not the correct order received.  Then, the shipping return fee is shouldered by the supplier.  
  • When this happens, the first thing you will do is a request for a proof from the customer that the product was, in fact, defective and an incorrect order was sent.  We can ask for a picture of the item, or a video to determine the quality of the item.  
  • Do not forget how the customer wants to resolve the concern.  In this case, it could either be a replacement item or a refund.
  • Once we receive the photo or video, we will forward the details to the supplier.  The supplier will then assess the condition and review the details for approval. Once approved, they will process a replacement or a refund for the damaged/ incorrect order.
Customer Changed His Mind
Customers are always right.  At least this what most people believe in.  This is a common misconception of the norm that customers always have the right to do what they “want” to do.  In dropshipping, all transactions are done online. We do not have ways to answer questions in person when they ask about product specifics.


All details are listed on the description. There are times when customers fail to read the description properly leading to an incorrect product order.  Just like on the example earlier, we always ask our customers, “May I ask for the reason why you are requesting to return the item?”  
  • When the customer mentioned it was not how he expected the product, possibly due to size, color, etc. Then we have to explain to the customer that the product description stated the size, the color and other things he might’ve expected.  
  • Apologize that it was not what he expected it to come and explain he will be responsible for the cost of shipping. 
  • Set expectations that the cost of the shipping might be more than the amount of the product as this is coming from overseas. 
  • If the customer agrees to return the item with the right expectations, the supplier may either process a refund or replacement depending on the agreement.  
Assess the Price of the Product 
Dropshipping items are sold at a fairly low price. This attracts more customers to make that purchase with us.  However, in times when the customers are requesting a return, most of the time it is not beneficial for us due to the cost of shipping.  We are aware that the items are shipped by the supplier from overseas making the cost of shipping pricey.


If the customer is requesting to return the item, and we were able to determine that the supplier was answerable for the item, then we follow the steps below. 
  • Check the condition of the item.  Assess if the price of the product value is equivalent to or less than the price of the return shipping fee.  
  • If the cost of the product is more than the shipping fee, then we may consider requesting the customer to send the product back to us.  
  • Explain to the customer that they need to pay for the shipping fee and then we will credit the amount of the shipping fee back to their account.  
  • Once we receive the original product, then we can either process a replacement or a refund based on the customer’s request. 
Dropshipping is a legitimate business and therefore has its own terms and conditions.  This includes terms and conditions on handling returned items. Some may call it “Return Policy”.  The idea is to protect both the customer, dropshipper and supplier in handling these types of scenarios.  


It is an agreement that will clear the process of returning products.  A dropshipper should ensure that he has this policy at hand so that we can avoid the loss in paying for the shipping fees which should not be covered by the supplier.  This will surely impact our profit if not managed well. We could get a negative rating as a seller, which is very important as a dropshipper. 


So for this post, who pays for the shipping on returned items?  Well, that actually depends on the reason. So, we always have to ask first.  The most important thing to do to handle shipping returns it to ensure that the orders are fulfilled in order just so we can avoid the returns and also, avoid pointing fingers to which may both negatively impact us, the customers and the suppliers.  At the end of the day, we all benefit from each other, is that right?

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