AliExpress Dropshipping Business is a great way to start your online business without keeping any inventory or stock. This minimal risk business has been doing rounds on the Internet for its great benefits and a hassle-free income. Nonetheless, nothing comes without a few pitfalls to avoid- Dropshipping included.
Managing Order fulfillment is one of the key factors when you own a dropshipping business. There might be a chance where you’ll have to handle returns as well. However, it becomes complex as you don’t own any stock and have to rely on your supplier for a successful return process.
Still, there are a few things you can do to make it easier for your customer and the business converting the problem situation into a chance to grab a lifelong customer for your dropshipping store.
In a dropshipping business, your buyer makes the purchase from your store and then you pass the order to the supplier who packages and ships the order to your customer. Your customer happily receives the order and gives you positive feedback.
But sometimes things get messy and they ask for a return or a refund. Now, it is very important to be prepared beforehand. Even if you have never got any returns complaint, you must have all your bases covered. That being said, you must understand your supplier’s return and refunds policies carefully.
This is a very important part. So, read it carefully.
As a dropshipper, you should be very careful of who you select as your supplier. When you have found an ideal supplier, take enough time to study their return and refund policies in order to create your own (more on that in the next section).
Here are a few things you should check:
Once you have gone through their policies carefully, it is time to go to the next step.
If you haven’t already created a returns & refund policy for your dropshipping store yet, now would be a good time to begin with it. Create a separate page dedicated to the Returns Policy on your store and specify the major aspects on the FAQs page as well.
This will help to build the trust of prospective buyer in your brand. While formulating your policies, try to make them as similar to your supplier as possible. Also, mention all the details clearly in order to avoid any misconceptions in the future.
If your supplier has mentioned a 30-day return policy, you should keep it lesser. Say, 20-25 days to give an additional time to you and your consumer for any shipment delays or sending the refund package.
Make sure to mention the acceptable reasons for return. Even if your supplier is flexible with the returns, you don’t have to do the exact same thing. You can mention “All sales are final except when the product is sent wrong or damaged.”
This will help you deal with returns better when already stated clearly in the dropshipping store returns policy.
Remember you’re a dropshipping store and in case you have no physical office (Many dropshippers don’t), do not specify any return address on your policy page. You can share an email id and ask the person to directly contact you.
As per the issue, you can decide whether to give them your supplier’s address or your own.
Tip: If you wish to handle returns by asking the consumers to ship it to you, a great way can be to get a P.O. Box address and use that for returns. In this manner, your personal information will be kept safe.
Now that you’ve crafted a great Returns and Refund policy, you should focus on the handling of returns. This is a real problem and it can happen to any business. You need to focus on the solution and making your customer happy here.
So, first let’s see what are the most common reasons for the returns:
One of the most common reasons for the product return is when the received item doesn’t match the online description. Yes, it is a true problem. Either you could have made a mistake here or the supplier is at fault.
If you create manual listings and edit the description, there is a chance you’re at fault. Or if you use the direct listings from your supplier, he may have made the mistake. However, once the mistake has been made, you need to take responsibility and make things right.
First off, you should send an apology email to the buyer and contact your supplier. Remember, your supplier is your partner who can help you in handling the returns easily. Ask the supplier to send a replacement to your consumer or make the refund (if they were at fault).
Your customer is your responsibility and you should do everything you can to make them happy at this point including a refund of the return shipping cost. Even if it costs you a few dollars, they will appreciate you for the concern and may even shop from you again.
Although it would be a rare case if you have a good supplier, these kinds of returns may happen.
If you do encounter such customer in your dropshipping store, make the return process as easy for them as possible. Pay for the return shipping costs and get the return label for them as well, if possible.
An exceptional customer support will go a long way in retaining customers for your dropshipping stores and increasing your brand loyalty as well.
Another common reason for returns is often a mistake order. Maybe you own a shoe store and they ordered the wrong size. If you had inventory, it would have been as easy as 123. However, because of the third-party involvement, things often get complex.
Check with your supplier if they accept mistake order returns first and then revert the buyer. As discussed above, you don’t have to take the return here as the buyer was at fault. Nonetheless, if the product has a lesser price like below $5, you can send the customer another item and ask them to keep the wrong item as well.
Although it cost you a few extra dollars, you may have gained a loyal customer here who would love to purchase from you over again. Further, going through the whole return process for a product costing $5 or less is not worth the hassle for all parties involved.
Before I share how you should handle the returns or deal with your customers let me show you how an actual return and refund process would work for a dropshipping store.
1. A customer requests a return.
2. Once you have analyzed the reason for the return, you contact your supplier and ask for a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number and a replacement or refund (as per your customer’s wish).
3. Next, you send the apology email to the customer with the RMA number and the return address. They will ship the package to either you or the supplier.
Note: Remind the buyer to purchase a tracking number if they are the one paying for the return shipping. Also, if it’s your first time handling returns, I would suggest you get involved directly and get the product shipped to you.
4. If you’ve received the product, analyze the product for the damage, defect or other reasons (as applicable), take pictures (for proof) and ship it to your supplier. However, if the supplier is directly receiving the product, keep in touch with them.
Verify when they have received the product and initiated a replacement or your refund.
Tip: Be polite with your supplier. Remember, your supplier is also your partner in the dropshipping business and being rude to them will not make your customer happy. Always show respect to your supplier while dealing with order fulfillment or returns.
5. The supplier initiates the return or the refund.
6. Your customer receives the product or you receive your refund amount.
Expert Advice: When a customer insists on a refund, you can offer them a free upgrade of the similar product or store credit with the refund for future purchases as well. This will leave a lasting impact on the buyer’s mind and convert a bad experience into a respectful memory for the store.
Now, let’s see the best ways to handle returns and refunds in your AliExpress dropshipping store.
Dropshipping business means you don’t have to keep stock or handle any shipping and packaging. Still, the buyer is not aware of any of this. When a buyer requests a return, always take responsibility.
Don’t try to blame it on the supplier. Your buyer will only think that you are trying to find your way out of a sticky situation. Instead, own the mistake. Even if your supplier is at fault, accept the mistake as your own and partner with your supplier to provide the best possible solution to the consumer.
This is a very important thing. When a return happens, you must not escalate the problem or get rude with your supplier. There can be many things that could have gone wrong and you must deal with things patiently.
Most importantly, you should be respectful towards your supplier and work together to resolve the issue at hand. This will not only strengthen your current relationship with your supplier but also provide a quick solution for your buyer.
However, if the supplier keeps on sending wrong or defective products, it might be time to cut ties with them and find another good supplier to maintain the good reputation of your online store.
A customer who has requested a return wants to be dealt with fairly and at the earliest. While you’re working to resolve their issue, you can also do a few little things that will leave a lasting impact on the customer.
Although these things are relatively small for you, they can matter a lot more to your customer and rebuild their trust in your dropshipping store.
Now, there might be some products that will cost more with return shipping than sending their replacement. For instance, if the product has a very low cost. Suppose a customer bought a wrong sized ring worth $5 and want to return it now.
While you’re not at fault for their mistake order, they are eligible to make the return if you’ve not specified it in your Return & Refund Policy. In such a case, you can simply offer them to send the replacement and keep the original product as well.
This would be much easier than taking care of the full return process. Furthermore, this small act may have converted a problem buyer into a repeat customer for your store.
Having the first return request on your dropshipping store can be overwhelming. However, it is just one part of the business that can be turned into an opportunity to impress your customer with exceptional support, quick solution and earn their trust.
In this guide, I have tried to cover everything you may need to know for handling returns and refunds in AliExpress Business and hope it will help you deal with these problems in a quick and effective manner.
A quick takeaway would be to remember that your customer should be a top priority and you must work in conjunction with your supplier to offer a fast solution and make the extra efforts to make your customer happy.
In case you’d like to share your own tips or have any further queries, drop a comment below.