Returns management - fast, flexible and local
Returns are as important to online trading as the ‘Amen’ is to a prayer. For example, depending on the category, a return rate of up to 60% can be expected in the fashion sector in Switzerland.
As we explained to you in step 5, there are two basic options:
- You have returns from Swiss shoppers sent directly back to Germany or Austria, so your returns management is in the country of origin.
- You allow returns from Swiss shoppers directly to a Swiss returns centre.
It is obvious that the second option is best from the customer's perspective, and it has an immediate impact on your KPIs!
You can find out more about KPIs and how they can be increased in our blog. If you want to know how logistics influence your online shop, then we recommend this blog.
Exclusively returns management in the country of origin? Not an optimal solution
This variant is actually no different from the returns management of a national e-commerce return:
- The returns are registered.
- Content Check (which articles have been returned, what condition are they in?).
- The goods are stored or destroyed.
- After 4 to 5 days the refund for the returned items will be initiated.
Advantage of this variant:
- There is only one returns centre.
- The logistics costs per return.
- It’s not very convenient for your Swiss customers (they have to fill out the customs form).
- Swiss customs duties cannot be claimed back.
- The repayment will only be triggered after 4 to 5 days.
Swiss returns center - The more optimal returns solution
We would like to present this variant to you in more detail. A brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages.
- The logistics costs per return are moderate because only national dispatch costs are incurred.
- It’s much more convenient for your Swiss customers as there is no need to fill out customs form CN22.
- The national return address, far from standard, is ideal for increasing your conversion rate.
- Swiss customs duties can be reclaimed.
- Repayment is triggered after only one day.
- Administration effort for two returns handling processes: once in the Swiss returns centre and a second time in the German or Austrian returns centre.
Check-in, content check and case management
Think of this process within your e-commerce logistics as an inventory of the returned goods. These questions must be answered:
- When were the goods checked in at the returns centre?
- Which of the items originally shipped were checked in?
- In what condition are these articles? Here, most traders specify criteria that are to be checked by the service provider, for example any damage to the shipment.
- What special details did the shopper provide? This is where most retailers pass on shoppers' message options. For example, whether he wants a particular item of clothing in a different size.
Individual clarifications are part of case management. For example, if an employee feels that there is a fraud case, he or she takes a photo and has the case investigated more closely by the merchant.
This is simply about information and, if possible, automated forwarding of daily reports to the trader, so you know the current state of affairs and can quickly transfer your money back to Swiss shoppers.
Consolidation lowers costs for return transport
For retailers with very large volumes, for example several hundred returns per day, it can make sense to return shipments daily from the Swiss returns centre in order to optimise e-commerce logistics. If there are fewer, it makes sense to consolidate the goods for cost reasons. Consolidation limits can be defined over a specific date (for example, return every two weeks) or over a quantity (for example, after eight euro pallets). Intelligent consolidation reduces return transport costs massively.
For very small quantities, it’s worthwhile returning them in an outer carton. In most cases, however, several euro pallets are returned.
Consolidation helps to achieve optimum utilisation of the transport vehicle.
A good and efficient solution for this is the forwarding agent who will also bring your shipments to Switzerland.
Export customs clearance
Export customs clearance ensures that your returns leave Switzerland in accordance with the law. For the export customs clearance and the issuing of the transit certificate (T2) you need a customs agent who will take over the handling for you at a charge.
Back customs clearance
Clearance back makes sense for traders who have paid correspondingly high import duties. This only applies to traders who have sent the goods to Switzerland by DDP, i.e. who have borne the customs duties themselves.
These duties may be repeated on exportation. In our fashion example: this amounts to between 2 CHF and 4.70 CHF per kilogram of their duty paid shipments (the gross weight is decisive, i.e. goods including packaging). This administrative process should also be handled by your service provider.
The whole returns management process is extremely data-heavy (especially point 6.2.1) and your service provider must have modern and dynamic IT tools. This is the only way to ensure that the service provider can adapt the data collection and reporting to your needs. And therefore help to make international e-commerce logistics easier.
In general, data is very important in logistics. Learn how you can reduce your costs in e-commerce with structured data in our blog.
Swiss Post has developed the Dynamic Return Platform (DRP) for this purpose. This enables us to configure individual customer set-ups, collect all the desired data and communicate it in a simple format.