3 min

Returns Management: Are you aligned with the new standards?

Returns are an inevitable aspect of the e-commerce landscape, constituting 25–40% of online items purchased. Understanding and addressing the challenge of returns is crucial for retailers to maintain customer loyalty and boost sales. 

But are you offering the returns process your customers really want? Let’s have a look at the return options and processes provided by OneStock’s Order Management System (OMS).

The importance of optimising returns processes

Overview of returns options

In-store returns: OneStock’s OMS empowers retailers to streamline in-store returns. Through our Store App, retail staff gain access to comprehensive order details, history and returns management features. This ensures a smooth and efficient experience for customers looking to return items at physical stores.

Key advantages:

  • Real-time order visibility for store staff
  • Enhanced customer experience with immediate assistance
  • Integration with in-store inventory for efficient restocking

Pre-printed returns: OneStock OMS simplifies returns with pre-printed return labels included within the original parcel. While convenient, this method does have limitations such as fewer return options, limited drop-off points and a lack of confirmation of item returnability.

Key advantages:

  • Convenient for customers with included return labels
  • Clear instructions provided within the original parcel


  • Limited return options
  • Fewer drop-off points
  • Lack of confirmation of item returnability

Self-service returns: Customers manage their return process via the retailer’s portal using self-service returns. While offering increased convenience, this method requires customers to initiate the process themselves, potentially needing access to a printer.

Key advantages:

  • Increased customer convenience
  • Empowers customers to initiate and manage returns


  • Dependency on customer initiation
  • Printer may be required for label printing

Direct returns: Parcels are returned to the warehouse without prior notification. While this process is easier for carriers and retailers, it often results in a poor customer experience due to minimal information provided.

Key advantages:

  • Efficiency for carriers and retailers
  • Simplicity in the return process


  • Poor customer experience due to minimal information
  • Lack of communication before return

Call centre returns: Customers contact customer service to register returns, receiving immediate confirmation. However, human intervention is required to register the return, adding extra steps to the returns process.

Key advantages:

  • Immediate confirmation for customers
  • Human touch in the returns process


  • Additional steps with human intervention
  • Potential delays in return processing

Circular economy returns: The versatility of OneStock OMS extends to managing returns of used goods within the circular economy. This forward-thinking approach aligns with the growing emphasis on sustainability in retail practices.

Key advantages:

  • Contribution to sustainable practices
  • Management of returns for used goods


  • Limited adoption due to evolving circular economy practices

Benefits of optimising returns

Returns management is not merely a post-purchase process but a strategic element that can shape the success of e-commerce businesses. Returns are associated with several benefits:

1. Higher conversion rates

Customers are more likely to make purchases when they are confident about the returns process. By providing a convenient and seamless returns experience across all channels, OneStock OMS contributes to higher conversion rates. When shoppers know they can easily return products, they are more inclined to make the initial purchase, fostering trust and confidence in a brand.

2. Improved customer experience

Satisfied customers are the backbone of any successful business. OneStock OMS ensures that the omnichannel returns process is not just convenient but delightful for customers. A smooth and hassle-free returns experience enhances customer satisfaction, making them more likely to return for future purchases. The ease with which customers can navigate returns options contributes to a positive overall shopping experience.

3. Better channel integration

Returns management with OneStock OMS ensures that customers receive a consistent level of service regardless of where they made their purchase or return. The integration of returns processes across channels is a game-changer. Restocking products for resale or routing them to a more appropriate location optimises inventory levels, reduces stockouts and minimises operational complexity and logistics costs associated with returns handling.

4. Contribution to the circular economy

As sustainability becomes a central focus in the retail landscape, OneStock OMS stands out by facilitating circular economy returns, aligning with the broader goal of reducing waste and promoting sustainable practices. This forward-thinking approach not only meets customer expectations but also positions a brand as environmentally conscious.

How Returns Management works in an omnichannel environment

Let’s unravel the intricacies of how Returns Management works in an omnichannel environment, leveraging the step-by-step process of OneStock’s Order Management System.

1. Return initiation

The first step in the omnichannel returns journey is initiated by the customer. Through various channels, such as online portals, customer service, or in-store interactions, the customer requests their return. OneStock OMS ensures a user-friendly and accessible process, allowing customers to choose their preferred channel for initiating the return.

Key features:

  • Multiple channels for return initiation
  • User-friendly interface for customer convenience
  • Seamless integration with online portals and in-store processes

2. Return authorisation

Once a return request is made, OneStock OMS automates the return authorisation process. This involves applying pre-defined rules and policies to ensure consistent and accurate returns approvals. The automated system eliminates the potential for subjective decision-making, providing a standardised and efficient approval workflow.

Key features:

  • Automated approval based on pre-defined rules
  • Consistent and accurate returns authorisations
  • Reduction of manual intervention for faster processing

3. Return inspection

Upon receipt of the returned item, the retailer conducts a thorough inspection to ensure it meets the specified return conditions. OneStock OMS facilitates this process by providing real-time visibility into the returned items, enabling retailers to efficiently assess their condition and determine their eligibility for resale.

Key features:

  • Real-time visibility into returned items
  • Efficient inspection processes for timely assessments
  • Enhanced accuracy in determining item eligibility

4. Return confirmation generation

Following the inspection, OneStock OMS generates a return confirmation. This confirmation is communicated to the customer either via email or through a dedicated customer portal. Transparent communication at this stage ensures customers are informed about the status of their return, contributing to a positive post-purchase experience.

Key features:

  • Automated generation of return confirmations
  • Communication through email or customer portal
  • Transparent updates for enhanced customer satisfaction

5. Refund processing

OneStock OMS takes the complexity out of refund processing. By seamlessly integrating with payment systems, it ensures that refunds are processed smoothly and in a timely manner. This contributes to customer trust and satisfaction, fostering loyalty and positive brand perception.

Key features:

  • Seamless integration with payment systems
  • Timely and accurate refund processing
  • Building customer trust through transparent financial transactions

6. Inventory updates and replenishment

As returns are processed, OneStock OMS updates inventory in real time. This dynamic inventory management ensures accurate stock levels and availability for future sales. Retailers can make informed decisions about restocking products or routing them to more suitable locations, minimising stockouts and optimising operational efficiency.

Key features:

  • Real-time inventory updates
  • Informed decisions for restocking and routing
  • Optimisation of inventory levels to reduce stockouts

Returns comprise a substantial percentage of online transactions, and can play a defining role in shaping customer loyalty and influencing purchase decisions. The statistics are clear—customers value a smooth returns process, and unfavourable returns policies can lead to abandoned purchases.

OneStock OMS is a comprehensive solution, providing a range of customer-centric returns options—from in-store returns to circular economy returns—in a seamless step-by-step journey, from return initiation to inventory updates. The benefits are various, including higher conversion rates, an improved customer experience, better channel integration and a positive contribution to the circular economy.

Customer expectations are ever-evolving, and aligning with new standards for returns is not just a strategic move but a necessity. OneStock OMS sets the benchmark for excellence in returns management. By simplifying processes, offering diverse options and contributing to sustainable practices, retailers can not only meet but exceed customer expectations.

By embracing solutions like OneStock OMS, retailers can streamline their operations and create a customer experience that sets them apart in a competitive market. If you want to learn more about it, contact us.

Further reading