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How to Handle Returns and Refunds

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International eCommerce Returns and Refunds

International eCommerce can dramatically increase a business's top-line revenue and margins. However, many times the logistical overhead gets in the way. It may result in a negative profit margin. Therefore, it is important to be careful about how you expand your eCommerce business internationally.

One of the areas that can result in a significant overhead is returns and refunds. You need a robust policy and consistent communication to reduce the number of returns and refunds. It involves sending out emails as soon as there is an update on the status of each order. This is particularly necessary if the delivery timeline is long. Providing consistent updates to your customers can prevent items from getting canceled or returned.

It is also important to have clear and straightforward policies concerning issues that might occur after the successful delivery of an order. For that, you need to translate your refund and return policies for each region as correctly as possible.

Incorporating Industry Best Practices

Terms and Policies

The first thing you need to focus on is drafting the policies regarding returns and refunds for different regions. Translate them correctly according to the local dialect of each country. After that, determine how you want the returns and refunds to work for different product categories from a governance perspective. Then apply that data to the respective product categories in your system. So, the refund and return policies on the platform are reflective of different regions and product categories.

Incorporating Industry Best Practices

Customer Service Representatives

Ultimately, the end goal is to make sure the customer is happy with your service and the item(s) they have purchased. Therefore, even if you have good terms and policies in place, sometimes it may be necessary to take other routes to satisfy the customer. In some cases, it may even mean having to adjust your policies.

Therefore, you should allow customers to get in touch with customer service representatives through chat or call. These customer representatives should be able to modify the handling of a particular order internally. So, they can adjust things according to the needs of the customer in exceptional cases. It may seem like a hassle but will allow you to build long-term relationships with your customers.

Not to forget, a significant logistical overhead comes with returns and refunds, especially from a data management perspective. So, it is important to integrate all returns and refunds into your back-office systems. You have to ensure that the administration and customer service representatives get this data accurately and assign it forward accordingly. Mainly, there should be a seamless transfer of refunds/returns-related data from the international eCommerce platform to the ERP to the accounting and warehouse management systems to the CRM systems.

Without such integration, it can become challenging to gather accurate, up-to-date information on a large scale. Moreover, it is also vital to have automation for payment refunds, shipping labels, and order fulfillment.

Reduce Latency

Payment Refund & Follow Up

Depending on the user's request, you may want to send an email to an internal staff member for verification. So, according to what kind of return/refund they want and why they want it, especially if it is on a large order, a representative may want to call and verify the request with the customer. After the phone call is over, they should add it to the record accordingly. Or if the issue does not get resolved, connect them to the right person.

Once the customer's request gets verified, you may be required to issue a payment refund. However, it is possible that the customer does not want a refund for the entire order, just an item or two. In that case, a partial payment refund needs to be made. Therefore, it is important to ensure your international eCommerce platform can issue payment refunds for portions of each order.

Now, there are a lot of logistical aspects that can improve customer retention, even if all they want to do is complete a return. For instance, is it easy for the customers to get a replacement after they return an item? Is the return process automated as well?

Even after the refund process is complete, you must follow up and confirm the satisfaction of the customer. If they have a pleasant experience with your service, they are more likely to come back.

Dialing In the Final Pieces

Mid-Shipping Process Return/Refund Requests for Items

In some cases, there may be multiple returns or refunds within a single order. These items could be from different sellers. So, each item may be at a different point of the shipping process. Each item may have a different delivery date. Some of them might have already been fulfilled. Some might have been shipped to the distribution center. Therefore, it is important to manage the refund/return request for each item individually.

There could be an automated system that informs them that they cannot refund an item because it is beyond the 30-day policy. Or it is non-refundable once it has already been delivered/received.

However, it can also be beneficial to offer them a goodwill gesture (such as a discount) afterward. You may even direct them to a live support member to resolve any concerns in case they did not read the policies before purchasing.

How Clarity can Help

Clarity International eCommerce Experts

To conclude, you need to have a robust system to handle all these scenarios related to returns and refunds. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to see through all these things before enabling returns and refunds on your international eCommerce platform.

If you have any more questions related to this topic, we encourage you to reach out to our experienced team. They can provide a complimentary analysis. Or answer any questions about the next step in the process of expanding your eCommerce platform internationally. We certainly look forward to answering your question and talking with you about your upcoming international eCommerce project.

As you plan on how to expand your eCommerce platform internationally, we encourage you to go through the resources below. Some of these can be helpful for your project.

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