How Lotuscrafts Customer Support saved 99% of the return-related workload
However, when the entire process is manual and the pinnacle of mechanization consists on a PDF document that has to be sent back and forth between the company and an external logistics provider, returns management quickly becomes a task that is not only uneconomical but also consumes a lot of time.
This is exactly the situation that Lotuscrafts faced until a few months ago. In this interview, Markus Pfister, Head of E-Commerce at the Austrian label, tells us what difficulties arose from the old process. He also reports how the introduction of 8returns has made returns management much more efficient and reduced the workload in customer support by 99 percent.
Sustainability from Vienna: That's Lotuscrafts
Lotuscrafts consists of a core team of 15 employees and is based in the Austrian capital Vienna. In the company's store and its branches on the major online marketplaces, customers can find everything they need for yoga and meditation.
Lotuscrafts places particular emphasis on the aspect of sustainable business management. The company's customer base currently consists mainly of residents of the DACH region and France, but individual customers that can be found throughout Europe. The next step on the Viennese agenda is therefore to further the expansion, particularly in the direction of Italy and Spain.
Inconvenient and error-prone: returns reasons before 8returns
As mentioned above, Lotuscrafts receives about 450 returns from all over Europe every month. For a long time, this process and the communication between the partners turned out to be extremely labor-intensive, error-prone, and not particularly customer-friendly. E-commerce manager Markus Pfister talks about the previous status quo:
"Until a few months ago, a return went something like this for us: If a customer wanted to return goods, he was confronted with a Typeform form in our store in which he had to enter all his information.
Depending on his country of origin, he was then either redirected to the page of a shipping service provider such as DHL or landed on a website with the return label to print it out himself. The process was thus not optimally solved because there was no central collection of returns requests. It was also not user-friendly because the return could not be registered on a central platform."
Open to errors and unqualified returns
"One of the main problems here was that the data entered was not matched with the order information. So, at least in theory, customers could enter whatever they wanted into the forms. This meant that orders that had been placed more than 30 days ago could be returned. That did not happen very often but was not an ideal solution.
In addition, there was another potential source of error due to the manual reconciliation of the PDF lists from our logistics service provider. Even though our customer support team works very thoroughly, people make mistakes. A number error in an order number can happen quickly."
"Most recently, it was very unfavorable that our logistics partner could not be informed about incoming returns. The packages simply arrived there unannounced. The document was then sent to our customer support team, who initiated all further steps manually depending on the status of the return - exchange, refund, damaged goods and so on. So all in all, our returns system used to be inconvenient, non-transparent and, above all, not scalable."
Efficient and transparent: Returns after switching to 8returns
As Head of E-Commerce, it was therefore clear to Markus that things could not go on like this. After discussing with market partners and extensive online research, Lotuscrafts decided to partner with 8returns.
Markus summarizes what has changed since then:
Central contact point, individual configuration
"Every one of our customers, regardless of which country they come from, now heads for the same returns portal and simply enters their order number and e-mail address. The system compares the entry with the order and automatically creates a return label or a QR code for the shipping service provider.
This is not only convenient and foolproof for our customers - in particular, we as a company can configure individual returns cases. For example, it is possible to offer free return shipping for buyers in the DACH region and to charge postage for a customer from Portugal. This way, a return is as customer-friendly as it is economical."
Clear and simple
"PDFs are now also a thing of the past because our logistics provider also has access to 8returns' system and is now informed about incoming shipments. The fact that all departments involved in a return work with the same interface naturally has immense advantages:
Standard cases, such as damaged packaging or defective goods no longer have to take the intermediate route via our customer support, but are simply processed directly by our logistics specialist. Support only intervenes in exceptional situations and can otherwise forward the case directly to the accounting department".
Fewer returns thanks tracking of return reasons and more sustainability
"We are also particularly pleased that we are now finally in a position to record the return reasons precisely and to evaluate them afterward. If we notice, for example, that customers repeatedly give 'too small' or 'too large' as the reason for their return, we position a corresponding note on the product page. By saying a friendly 'This item is large for you, order one size smaller', we have already avoided many returns.
And if a return does occur, we can also score points here with more sustainability: Because the entire process is now so simple, we are increasingly finding that our customers are using the original packaging for shipping. This is not only easier for our logistics provider, but also saves a lot of resources at the same time."
Future plans: more languages, complete system integration
Despite all this progress, there is still some work ahead for Lotuscrafts and 8returns. According to Markus, the following is on the agenda for the coming weeks and months:
"First of all, we would like to change our accounting system, because the software we are currently working with is not fully compatible with our process. Once this is done, returns will only mean a tenth of the current workload for us.
After that, we will focus on our expansion into Southern Europe. Already during the implementation, 8returns provided us with language packages in English and French, now the versions in Spanish and Italian will follow. This means that we will soon be able to offer our entire service to customers in a large part of the Mediterranean region."
So no one in Vienna needs PDF documents anymore if they want to return a shipment. The convenient, transparent, and fast processing via the new 8returns portal pleases Lotuscraft in general, its customer support in particular and, of course, above all the customers.
All images courtesy of Lotuscrafts.