First, let’s congratulate you for almost being finished with the holiday season! As ecommerce veterans, we understand what a busy time it can be, and dealing with sales this time of year is no small feat. As such, making it through the busiest time of year is definitely something to celebrate!
However, we also understand that an increased number of sales also can come with an increased number of returns. The Sausage Maker, a Volusion merchant, is familiar with this aspect of the sales cycle that comes after the holidays, and their Customer Service Manager, Jean Digrace, has some pieces of advice for stores dealing with returns season.
1. Returns Aren't a Sign of Failure
"[Returns are] only natural, as we also experience a huge increase in sales [during the holidays]," she says. "The number of items returned/the total items shipped should remain relatively stable, but with the holidays there is an uptick in shipping damages — no carrier handles holiday volume perfectly — as well as gift returns if recipient doesn’t need, want or already has something similar."
2. Keep It Clear
While you may have a larger-than-usual amount of returns this time of year, there's no need to be overwhelmed if you have the right procedures in place.
The less confusion for both the customer and your team, the smoother the process will go
"The key is to have a very clear return policy which is easy for your customers to find on your website as well as a defined in-house return policy for your employees to follow," Digrace says. "The less confusion for both the customer and your team, the smoother the process will go."
As with friendships, relationships and all other intrapersonal relations, communication is key when it comes to running your business and managing returns."[It] requires great communication and a trained team," Digrace mentions.
First, our goal here is to make it easy for our customers to make returns.
"First, our goal here is to make it easy for our customers to make returns. We always provide the return label and instructions on how to send products back to us. If this first part is not clear you will create a bottleneck for the customer service department. Second, it’s very important that our team understands how to properly handle returns and — even more importantly — how to interact with our customers that are making the returns."
4. Document Everything...and Learn from It
Another way to keep your returns organized is to make sure everything is on the books. "Have a clear documentation process in place for all returns," Digrace advises.
After the holiday rush you can analyze the data and pull information out that will help you improve your process, products and hopefully create a learning experience of how to improve for next year!
"[Track] what was the item and why was it returned (price, shipped late, shipping damage, defect…etc.). After the holiday rush you can analyze the data and pull information out that will help you improve your process, products and hopefully create a learning experience of how to improve for next year!"
5. It's All About Customer Service
While it may feel a bit disheartening to get returns, you can easily use them as opportunities to show off your business and make impressions for future sales.
We treat it [returns] as an opportunity.
"Processing a return (or higher volume of them) shouldn’t feel like a defeat," Digrace says. "We treat it as an opportunity. Many of the returns this time of year are from people that have never placed an order from us, so making the process easy and transparent to the customer is a great way to market our company’s awesome customer service!"
Returns, while not always welcome, are a crucial part of running your online business. While the return process can seem complicated if you haven’t done it before, we’ve written an easy guide to show you how!
1. Tracking a Return on Volusion
Within Volusion, there are two ways to handle returns. The first step in figuring out which way is best for you is to ask yourself if you are using Volusion to track your product inventory. If you answered no, all you will need to do within Volusion is process a credit back to the customer. Processing a credit may vary slightly depending on which gateway you are using.
The first step in figuring out which way is best for you is to ask yourself if you are using Volusion to track your product inventory.
With most gateways, you can credit that order by finding that specific order within the Orders > Process Orders section of your Dashboard. Once you have made your way to that order, navigate to the Payments section and find the "Payment Log" on the right side of the page. Once you have found that section, you will see an editable box with the total payment amount.
2. Making the Refund
If you need to refund the entire order, you won't have to make any adjustments to the payment amount. However, if you need to do a partial refund, you can edit the payment amount box to reflect the specific amount that needs to be returned. For example, if the total of the order was $10, and you only need to credit back $5, change the amount in the payment amount box to show "$5".
Once you've made a return, the credit will be received by the customer in 1-2 business days.
Once you have adjusted the payment amount, make sure the drop-down menu below the Payment Amount box says "Credit for Adjustment", double check your changes then click "Apply". Once that has been done the credit will be received by the customer in 1-2 business days, depending on your gateway.
3. Returning Directly from a Gateway
A few gateways don’t support processing credits directly from Volusion. If that's the case with your gateway, you will need to contact them directly. Once you have done so, we recommend adding an offline payment record to that order so that you can keep track of sales.
In order to add this record, go to the order then head to the Payments section and find the "Add Offline Payment record". Once there, make sure to change the payment type to "Credit For Adjustment". Next enter in the refund amount and any applicable transaction ID.
With the method of handling returns, once the funds have been credited back to the customer, there is nothing further that needs to be done!
Now, if you are using Volusion to track your inventory, you will need to create an RMA for the returned order. To get started with creating an RMA, head to the order that needs the return, scroll down to the Details section and click "Edit". Once the fields are editable, enter in the quantity that needs to be returned in the "QTY to be Returned" field. This field can be found directly below the "Packing Slip Quantity" field, pictured below:
After you've entered in that quantity, click the save button and an RMA section will appear underneath the Marketing section of the order. However, this section does not actually affect the processing of the RMA or any returned stock.
To finish processing an RMA, head over to the Orders tab, then select "Returns/RMAs". At the following page, find the RMA associated with the order and click on the RMA ID. Next, click on "Receive Inventory from RMA". Additionally, you will also be able to notate whether the returned quantity is Sellable or Damaged. Once you have made your adjustments, click save and merchandise that was marked as sellable with be returned to your store’s stock.
One thing to note is processing an RMA does not affect the funds that have been received for the order. You will still need to go through the steps listed earlier for crediting an order.
After that’s been done, that’s it! Nothing further needs to be done within the Volusion platform. Your first return may seem like a confusing process, however I hope this article has helped you confidentially process a return!
Have any other questions about processing returns with Volusion? Let us know in the comments!