Questions to consider when evaluating a returns platform
Published on: May 1, 2022
Updated: August 29, 2023
There are many reasons why a brand could be interested in returns platforms. To provide a better experience to customers, to win back business, to access new information about customer behavior, and more. But, whatever your reason for exploring a returns platform, here are five questions to consider when evaluating the best option for your e-commerce brand.
Does the platform provide a white-label experience?
To provide a seamless customer experience, the returns process you deliver must be designed with the same look and feel of your brand. A challenge with returns solutions in the market is that they often lack customization options. As a result, plug-in style returns platforms can feel mismatched to the rest of a brand’s communications.
Alternatively, a white-label returns platform delivers customer communication from within the brand’s own website. Crucially, this means that the brand receives the traffic and conversions generated via customer communication. In other words, the brand can finally stop sending hard-earned traffic to third party sites. This provides a huge commercial opportunity. With post-checkout emails generating more than five times more engagement than marketing emails, using a white-label platform will help you boost customer retention.
How does implementation work?
It goes without saying that you need to understand the onboarding process before you commit to a new platform. How long will it take? What resources will you need to commit? Can the tool work within your existing systems? You need to understand how much support you will receive during the integration process, too.
Ideally, you’re looking for a returns platform with a dedicated manager to support you through the onboarding process. You need clear, tailored information upfront to really understand the scope of the project. If the onboarding process is flexible and fast, but still high quality, this is good news for your team.
Does the platform have the scope to scale with you?
What is the returns platform set up to do? It may be able to support your business operations now, but what about in 6 months or a year, or five? If your business takes off, can this platform scale with you? It’s good sense to onboard with a platform that can support your long-term goals.
Additionally, consider if the solution has an existing network. You may find that some partners may help your business growth in future. Having a partner that has carrier integrations and market experience across the globe may serve your brand better than a solution that is only based in your current market. And as your company grows, your systems integrations will expand with you. So, it is important to know that the platforms you work with now will be able to continue to support your growing data complexity in future.
Can you access your returns data?
What information can the returns platform provide you? How easy is it to access the information? How long does it take to receive the information? These questions are key when looking for the right returns solution. For example, understanding returns behavior is hugely valuable. This data can enable you to identify trends which can help you make improvements. The data can also give you helpful insights into return volume and average processing times. This information will help you to forecast and plan resource requirements more accurately.
Most returns platforms can provide brands with access to this information; however, some take much longer than others to share it. If you’re receiving returns data from six months ago, your ability to make meaningful change is minimal. Meanwhile, other returns platforms can be integrated with a brand’s existing system, enabling near-instant updates within its own feed. This allows improved analysis and audience segmentation. So, a customer that has returned a damaged item may receive an apology email with a complimentary special offer, for example. Meanwhile, a customer that a brand has identified as a ‘serial returner’ may not receive that same perk.
Will the platform give you complete brand control?
Typically, plug-in returns platforms work by providing a quick, standardized solution for your brand. This means that there are limitations on how much the brand can control its own experience. Whereas, white-label platforms can work with a brand to create bespoke touch points throughout the returns process, that are consistent with the brand’s tone and style. The communication workflow can be designed with the end user in mind, via the channels they prefer. A complete returns experience will enable omnichannel communication, across email, SMS, chat and more.
Brands can segment its audiences to deliver tailored, hyper-personalized messaging that makes an impact. Branded content, such as related products, social media platforms, blog content, articles, videos etc can all be embedded into relevant messaging. This helps boost engagement, as well as driving engaged traffic back to your site.
Find the right returns platform for your brand
Before you choose a returns platform, make sure you consider all of these questions. Look for a platform that enables you to deliver a bespoke returns solution, with messages that embody your brand identity. Choose a platform that gives you access to returns data quickly and effectively. Make sure that you understand what is required to onboard successfully, and how much time it will take. Above all, ensure that the platform you choose gives you the opportunity to control the experience, now and as you grow.
parcelLab is more than just a returns solution. As the leading Operations Experience Management (OXM) platform, we enable brands to manage the entire experience that they deliver to customers, including warehousing, delivery, returns and beyond. Our platform will handle your complex, operational data, so you are free to deliver an experience of your own design, within your own ecosystem.