Historically many grocers have not placed a huge emphasis on return management as part of their operations strategy. It is true that businesses such as clothing stores do see a higher percentage of returns in comparison to grocery retailers. However, having a fast, robust, and most importantly, configurable returns system has become an increasingly valuable tool in grocery retail. Here are three reasons why now is the time to invest in a reliable returns system for your grocery store:
1. Changing Retail Landscape
When the Covid-19 pandemic began, retailers had to adapt to create different options for the different ways consumers wanted to shop. One option that many grocers chose to implement was online ordering. This led to more than 70% of U.S. households ordering groceries online at some point in 2021.
In response, we have seen retailers' average return rates jump from 10.6% to 16.6% in just one year. The main reason behind this is mostly due to online sales. The more that people buy things that they can’t physically see or touch, the more likely they are to be returned, especially general merchandise such as clothing or makeup.
We have also seen some grocers having success selling more general merchandise. While the exact reasoning behind carrying more general merchandise may vary from retailer to retailer, many stores want to be as much of a “one stop shop” as possible. Especially in an increasingly competitive retail environment with many large-scale retailers offering both groceries and other home items. As we’ve already mentioned, general merchandise retail does see a higher rate of return items. Grocery retailers that take on more general merchandise need to also evaluate their systems and policies, such as returns, to meet the shift in product.
2. Customer Service
There’s no getting around it, a return usually means that a customer bought a product, was unsatisfied with it, and is now annoyed that they must return it. While this all sounds very negative, it’s actually a great opportunity for retailers to excel above competitors and provide quick and efficient customer service.
When processing the return, the experience needs to be quick and easy for both the cashier and customer. With a bar code at the bottom of the receipt, the employee at any lane just simply scans the receipt, the items, and quickly completes the return. Other examples of ways a return system can delight a customer are:
- Allowing returns for items paid for with food stamps and manufacturer coupons.
- Allowing returns at any point-of-sale lane, and multiple locations
Regardless of your returns system and policy, it is important every employee is trained on how to process returns. If the customer is already frustrated, they don’t want to talk to five different employees before finding one that can help them. An easy system makes employee training painless.
With just a few simple practices and a fast returns system, you’re building a great customer service presence in your store, and most importantly, helping increase customer retention.
3. Loss Prevention
Cutting down on shrinkage is an important aspect of keeping any successful grocery store afloat. A growing number of returns each year could mean more shrinkage, but there are ways for retailers to cut down on this with a configurable returns system.
The easiest way to tackle shrinkage is to customize what items can be returned in response to the current economy. We have already seen some retailers update their policies to make less room for returns to combat inflation. However, tightening return policies could negatively impact your bottom line if poorly received by customers. Instead of only looking to minimize return volume, retailers should utilize a return system that applies loss prevention parameters to the return process. For example, the return system could apply these loss prevention best practices:
- For a return without a receipt, force the return to a gift card.
- Have no more than three returns without a receipt and an ID.
- Prevent customers from gaming the system by buying “buy one get one free” items and then returning both for full price.
- Check to see if the item is stolen
A well-crafted returns system can also be a valuable tool in combating theft activities at the point of return.
Invest in a Returns System to Combat Today’s Challenges
What makes a robust return system? The one that works with your stores' unique parameters and policies, not against them.
TRUNO offers both NCR and Toshiba Point of Sale users a highly configurable, yet secure and reliable returns solution. Tighter loss prevention and improved customer experience surrounding returns with just a quick scan of any transaction receipt at any point-of-sale lane.
Enhancing customer experience and maximizing loss prevention in an ever-evolving, post-covid landscape is likely already a large part of your ongoing operational strategy. But what many grocery retailers are not doing today is using a robust return system as an additional tool. Now’s the time to start.
Ready to Have a Returns System that Works for You?