Getting your products to your customers is as much an art as it is a business process, especially if they are on another continent but handling returns is an art on a whole other level.
Only through careful planning and preparation will you be able to properly manage your returns, keep customers happy and maintain cost effectiveness.
Links In A Chain
The biggest challenge for your business is the number of links that are present in the chain.
Unlike with returns from the same country, you’ve got several different entities involved in the return of your goods.
In the US, you only have the customer and the courier. For returns from Europe, there could be numerous elements including two couriers (one in the US and one in another country or even more) and an international shipper.
When managing so many different people in a long transportation chain there are a lot of potential areas where the package could go missing.
Unless the tracking is expertly implemented and managed, you will struggle to know where the link is weakest and products can go missing.
The cost of returning goods from Europe is going to be significantly more expensive than from the US or even Canada.
Therefore, you have to consider whether or not it is worth the cost to ask for the products to be returned in the first place. Sometimes it might be worth just offering the customer a replacement and saying they can dispose of the product as they wish.
It all depends on the profit margin you can expect. You are expected to pick up the cost of the return by the customer, and with certain laws in the EU (such as Consumer Contract Regulations in the UK).
These also determine how long you have to refund the customer. You or your fulfillment company should know these regulations so you can comply with them at all times.
Creating A Plan For Returns From Europe
Creating a plan will help you to manage returns from Europe.
A strong plan should be known by all members of your staff and be followed by them at all times.
Here is how you can develop this plan and implement it with your staff:
- Understand Local Regulations – not all countries have the same regulations. Understanding what your obligations and responsibilities are is an important factor in ensuring you aren’t going to get yourself into any trouble.
- Know the Costs of Return of Each Product – When it costs more for you to get the product back than you would make on reselling it, is there a point in asking for the product to be returned? You might need to do it in order to prevent fraudulent behaviour with your customers, but then you will never make a profit on that good. Each product is different, so look at them individually.
- Know the Timings – Understand how long it takes for the product to get back to you in order to provide a reasonable estimate to your customer. This will depend on your couriers, but by having strong communications with them, you can get this to be very accurate.
- Create a Communications Channel – For the returns to be done as fast as possible you need to have constant communications with your courier team. This means you need to have a communications channel that is reliable and you know they are monitoring.
- Use a Tracking System – Finally, you need to be able to track all the returns from the customer to your warehouse. This is the only way that you can be sure that your product is on its way back and where it is. Tracking can be done via your shipping agents and can be easily monitored via a web application.
Tracking can also protect you from customers who say they’ve sent the product back, but haven’t.
Getting returns from Europe is tricky.
You need to plan your processes for getting those returns cost effectively and by conforming to local laws and regulations. Otherwise you could find that returns are too much of a challenge.
- How do you plan for European returns?
- How do you track your returns?
Read More on the Complexities of International Shipping
- How To Get Your E-Commerce Right For International Shipping
- Cracking The Harmonized System Code: Product Classification for International Shipping
- 3 Ways You Can Ensure Safe Shipping And Regulatory Compliance
- The Complexities Of International Checkout for eCommerce Merchants
- 5 Things You Need to Include in Your International Returns Plan
- Free International eCommerce Fulfillment Audit