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How To: Start Building A Business Case For Returns

June 5, 2019

Returns have been a heavy feature in the UK press in recent months. Despite this, many retailers are still turning a blind eye to the enormous amounts of untapped potential returns possess. For many retailers, returns are treated like the junk drawer (every household has one) they keep telling themselves they’ll organise it one day, but it is always pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. If you’re guilty of ignoring the returns opportunity, getting returns to be a key topic of boardroom discussion can seem impossible.

Fixing returns takes a champion, someone dedicated to driving to the returns project through and educating the wider business on why they should focus on returns. It’s not uncommon for returns to be pushed to the back of the queue behind other “more important” projects. So it’s up to the returns champion (maybe it’s you?) to create a business case that your board can’t ignore.

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An effective business case will uncover all the challenges with your existing returns process, how you stack up against your competitors, and the potential ways these problems can be fixed. It might seem like a lot of work to begin with, but by taking it one step at a time you’ll have your business case built and ready to present to the board in no time! Not sure where to start? We’ve got some ideas...

1) You Don’t Have To Do It Alone

One you’ve elected a returns champion, or volunteered to take up the position yourself, remember that you don’t have to solve everything on your own. Each department will have different pain points when it comes to returns, so rather than leaving it up to your own guesswork, engage other job roles to explore their qualms. For example, whilst the concerns of the finance department might be rooted in the cost of returns, the operations team are likely to be more concerned with the lack of visibility of returned parcels.

You’d be surprised how many stakeholders there are when it comes to returns, so speak to all the key areas of your business to make sure no stone is left unturned. Ask for people from each department to contribute to the discussion, whether they’re present at every meeting or just chime in over email, the bigger your returns working group, the more thorough your business case will be.

returns tribe

Not sure who to get involved in the discussion? In our eBook ‘Building a Business Case For Returns’, we chat to leading retailers, Gymshark and Wiggle, to see who they included in their returns tribe.

2) Do the crazy thing…..

….ask your shoppers what they think of your returns process! Asking them for general feedback and evaluating tickets into your help center is a great start, but have you asked them to review their returns experience specifically? If your UK shoppers are having a rough time with your returns process, imagine the extra difficulties experienced by those returning overseas. So don’t forget to ask your international shoppers too!

62% of shoppers think retailers don’t invest enough in returns, so your shoppers probably have some pretty good ideas about where improvements can be made. Gathering valuable feedback may also allow you to spot interesting trends and correlations in your data. For example, is your NPS score higher in countries where free returns are offered? Understanding how returns fits into your NPS score will also give you a metric to actively measure. You can then present your findings back to your board once your returns process is underway.

3) Eyes On The Competition

If you’ve spotted an opportunity to undergo a returns project, a great way to gather momentum is to highlight how your competitors might be getting ahead in the returns race. Retail’s fixation on moving a product from the shoppers basket to their front door has led to brands so focused on competing for conversions, that a major part of the customer journey is neglected - returns.  

Create a returns scorecard for your brand and your competitors and use this to benchmark yourself. You might offer free returns, but if no-one can find your returns policy to learn this then you’ve got a real problem. As such, your scorecard needs to consider consider metrics beyond cost and timescale. Metrics such as refund time, return methods, policy reminders and navigation are just as important, and often overlooked. It’s easy to say you’re falling behind, but visualising it with facts and figures is much more hard hitting.

Don’t forget to create a scorecard for your international offering and make sure to familiarise yourself with what your competitors are offering in key markets too. If you’re looking to take your brand global, you need to make sure your returns offering isn’t falling behind the competition.    

Want to know how to create your scorecard? Check out our eBook, ‘Building A Business Case For Returns’.

new ebook

Building a business case for returns takes time, and whilst these few tips are a great way to great started, it’s important you do your research and don’t rush the process. In part one of our latest eBook, ‘Building A Business Case For Returns’ we take a deep dive into how to get your project off the ground. We’ll talk you through key personnel you should include, the key questions you need to ask and hit you with the hard facts certain to light a fire under your board.

Download the eBook