5 Ways to Reduce Friction in Your Returns Process


Logistics innovations

In the ever-competitive retail landscape, where every customer interaction counts, nothing dampens the shopping spirit like the hassle of returning a product. Whether you’re a retailer striving to minimize costs or a customer seeking a seamless return experience, the pain points of product returns are all too real.

According to the National Retail Federation, for ever dollar in sold product, almost 17% of product is returned. Further, the cost of processing returns via mail can exceed 50% of the products retail price. Between meeting consumer expectations and managing the costs associated with reverse logistics, it seems somethings gotta give.

However, there are ways retailers can incorporate practices that reduce friction in the returns process that not only minimize costs, but keep customers happy. Today we explore five such solutions.

Clarity is Key! Have Clear Return Policies and Procedures

Imagine stepping into a maze with no exit sign in sight. You wander aimlessless looking to find you’re way out. Depending on what awaits you at the end, you may just choose to give up, never to return to the maze again. Or, keep on going until the exit is found and you are exhausted by the process.

But what if before confusion and frustration take over, a clear path emerges?

Photo of a cornfield maze

A cornfield maze

Similarly, a well-defined return policy serves as the guiding light for customers and retailers alike. Craft a return policy that is as crystal-clear as a sunlit morning. Clearly communicate the conditions, timelines, and return methods to your customers through various channels like shining beacons. From in-store signage to online platforms, let them know that you’re there to make their return journey a breeze. Best of all, this is the least expensive method to improve the returns experience for everyone involved.

Offer Options! Compete with Convienence and Ease

The world of returns is as diverse as the marketplace itself. Embrace the beauty of choice by offering customers multiple avenues to return their products. It’s like giving them a magical key ring that unlocks convenience.

Smart locker streamline the returns process

A ParcelPort smart lockers streamline the returns process

Picture this: a customer returning a product through a mail return, gently placing it in a box as if bidding farewell to a dear friend. Or maybe they prefer the nostalgia of stepping into a store and personally dropping off their return, where smiling store associates await, ready to assist like retail superheroes. And for the modern-day adventurers seeking convenience beyond walls, the allure of nearby smart lockers beckons. Embrace these options and watch as the burden of returns melts away like a snowflake on a sunny day.

Sail Smoothly! Streamline As Much of the Process as Possible

A streamlined reverse logistics solution should mirror river flowing effortlessly, guiding customers toward their destination with back-of-house systems reducing costs every step of the way. It is here where you bring clear policies and processes to life.

Invest in user-friendly return systems that reduce the number of steps both you and your customers must take to complete a successful return. This may include investing in leading-edge software, hardware that minimizes time spent evaluating and classifying returns, and training employees to bring them up to speed on every aspect of your company’s returns practices.

A streamlined process not only saves time and effort, but also leaves customers with an impression of professionalism and care.

Educate and Inform! Help Customers Make Better Decisions

Knowledge is power, they say, and in the realm of returns, it’s the key to unlocking customer satisfaction. Provide customers with detailed and accurate product information before they make a purchase. Doing so can reduce the likelihood of products getting returned in the first place.

Imagine a customer exploring your website, and with a few clicks, they uncover a treasure trove of product descriptions, vivid images, and essential specifications. Even better, augmented reality allows customers to see in real-time how your product fits or looks. Remember, a well-informed customer is a satisfied customer!

Be Supportive! Being Proactive Builds Loyalty

In the challenging world of returns, empathy and support go hand in hand like lifelong companions. Imagine a customer facing a return conundrum, unsure how to return a product. By throwing them a lifeline via phone, text or online chat you can be their guiding star. When retailers provide responsive and helpful customer support, consumers feel appreciated.

Keep in mind, 73% of shoppers say their returns experience will affect whether or not they will buy from you again.

But providing a way to contact you is just part of offering support. There must be effective training for your support team to handle returns with finesse so they can expertly resolve concerns and provide timely updates. A proactive approach that anticipates their needs can transform frustration into loyalty, building trust and customer satisfaction.


In the realm of retail, where fierce competition and the customer experience reigns supreme, simplifying the product return process is a game-changer. With a clear return policy, multiple return options, streamlined processes, enhanced product information, and proactive customer support, you’re poised to conquer the world of returns while improving your bottom line.

And to learn more about how your organization can maximize smart lockers to reduce cost in the returns process using smart lockers, contact the ParcelPort team online by visiting www.theParcelPort.com or by calling 1-800-818-0870.