Managing returns in dropshipping
Your dropshipping business is working great.
You sell a lot, your customer database is growing day by day and your numbers are constantly increasing. You improve your marketing strategy every day and you optimize your levers efficiently to generate more profits.
However, now you are facing a problem… One of your customers wants to return his product.
Except that you do dropshipping. So, you have to manage Dropshipping Returns Policy.
You don’t manage any stock and you don’t store the goods. You don’t have pallets full of products to easily and quickly exchange the items you sell on your e-commerce site.
So how do you manage your returns when you sell online without stock and the goods are sent directly to the customer by the supplier? We interviewed a friend of mine who has made 14 million sales with his Shopify store and he gives you his tips.
Dropshipping Returns Policy: Product returns in general
As we all know, product returns are no picnic. The customer is often upset, which upsets you and may also upset your supplier.
Nevertheless, this is a crucial step in online sales. Even when you are dropshipping!
If you are efficient in managing your returns, it can make all the difference. A well returned product can build customer loyalty while a bad return experience can lead to anger towards your buyer and tarnish your e-reputation.
In your product return strategy, there are 2 important phases to consider:
- How do you prepare for returns before they happen?
- How to manage returns when they arrive?
To answer this, think about the last time you had to return a product. How did you feel about it? How did the company handle your return? After that experience, would you consider buying products from them again?
Be prepared for product returns and know your suppliers
To manage product returns, the best solution is to be well prepared beforehand.
So before you even launch your dropshipping store, you need to know the different terms of your suppliers and their policies. And if you’ve already launched and are making sales, remember to take a good look at the different terms and conditions to make sure they are correct and avoid unpleasant surprises.
When working with a supplier, it is crucial to know the different policies they have. These policies vary according to each wholesaler and supplier. We therefore invite you to find out more.
The supplier will ship the product directly to your customer, so it will have a direct impact on your dropshipping business.
You must have the answers to several questions:
- How long does your customer have to return a product after the sale?
- Does your customer have to pay the return shipping costs?
- Does your supplier accept returns if your customer made a mistake when ordering? (wrong product color, wrong size, etc)
- How does your supplier handle the return process?
Adapt your return policy to that of the supplier
You must create a return policy based on your suppliers.
- The withdrawal period
For example, if your supplier accepts a 30-day return period, give your customers 20 to 25 days. This allows you to keep a certain margin of maneuver and to take into account potential delays, forgotten shipments, etc.
And you should use the same logic if you have multiple products by harmonizing everything.
If one of your suppliers accepts returns within 25 days and the other one within 20 days, put forward that the return must be done within 15 days. You can also specify different return periods depending on the product line, but you risk a certain misunderstanding.
- The return address
In case you practice dropshipping with several suppliers, we also invite you to avoid specifying different return addresses. Deal with them on a case by case basis by asking the customer for the product in question and the problem and then provide the address.
- The tracking number
Also remember to specify that product returns are only accepted if the customer shares a tracking number with you. This will allow you to avoid disputes.
Now that you’ve created a return policy that matches your suppliers’, here are some important things to know.
Common reasons for product returns
Your customer has ordered a product that does not fit
This is quite normal and very common, especially in clothing. When you buy products online, you can’t try the item on.
Some suppliers will cover the return but others will not. Normally they have specified this in their policy.
Again, get this information straight with your supplier! It can make all the difference. In any case, we recommend that you send them another product, regardless of your supplier’s policy.
You can simply ask the customer to pay the return shipping costs, since the error was not on your end. Unless you can afford to pay for the return!
Of course, you will have to order the product a second time. But know that a very good after-sales service will keep your customer loyal and will make you gain new prospects.
The product does not correspond to the description
This problem can have 2 reasons: you made a mistake when writing the product sheet and adding the pictures or your supplier shared wrong information about the product.
If you are responsible, take responsibility. And if you are not at fault, take responsibility as well… After all, your customer is your priority.
How would you feel if you bought something on a website and the manager said: “Sorry, it’s my supplier’s fault, turn to him”, without taking any responsibility and without looking for solutions to solve the problem?
You will never order from his online store again.
If it’s your supplier’s fault, he will refund you and send another product to the customer. And if it is not the case, you may have to start looking for a new supplier…
And above all, think about changing the information on your product sheets.
The item is damaged or defective
This type of return is quite rare if you have a good supplier. However, unfortunately, it can still happen. When it does happen, make sure you cover all costs for your customer. Don’t charge them for return shipping and try to get them a return label quickly.
You need to make their job easier and avoid wasting their time.
Focus on the solution, not the problem
Your customers are not aware that you work with a supplier and that you practice dropshipping. It’s much better that way!
At no time should you put the blame on your sender or your supplier. Your customer doesn’t care who is responsible. They just want a replacement or a refund.
Apologize to your customer for the error, then immediately explain how you will correct it. Customers who receive exceptional service are very likely to tell others about it. Word-of-mouth marketing is very effective and all too often forgotten!
Determine if the return is necessary
Depending on the product to be returned, it is sometimes better to avoid the return. In dropshipping, most of the time, the products you buy from your suppliers do not cost you much.
So when the opportunity arises and a customer has ordered an item that doesn’t fit, we advise you to let them have it and send them a new one.
The customer will be delighted with this gesture and this action will cost you almost nothing!
Dropshipping Returns Policy: The return process
For Dropshipping Returns Policy, the return process may vary depending on your suppliers.
For example, if you are dropshipping with AliExpress, we advise you to avoid returns and recommend a product. We’ll let you find out more about shipping with AliExpress on this article.
As a general rule, this is what the return process will look like:
- Customer requests a return
You need to determine the reason for the return and then contact your supplier and request the return address to send the product back. Also, be sure to apologize to the customer (whether it’s your fault or your supplier’s) and tell them you will do everything you can to resolve the issue quickly.
- Supplier approves the return
Next, you need to give the customer the return address. Depending on your supplier’s return policy, you will probably need a label. It is usually up to your supplier to provide this.
- The customer will receive the new item or be refunded
Once the package has arrived safely, if they want a replacement, send a product back. If not, give them a refund, then send them an email to make sure everything went well.
Dropshipping Returns Policy: Conclusion
In conclusion, Dropshipping Returns Policy can be a real marketing lever to generate more sales and build customer loyalty. A customer rarely remembers the site where he bought a product.
On the other hand, he remembers very well a site that handled the return of his product wonderfully!