Streamlining a D2C Business by Receiving Returns With Automated SMS

on Apr 18, 2024

Navigating the challenges of Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) returns can be a hassle. High costs, operational inefficiencies, and the delicate task of satisfying a dissatisfied customer present formidable hurdles. 

One way to meet these challenges is by streamlining your returns              process with automated SMS. 

Delivery Solutions can help you implement an automated SMS returns process. This allows you to:

  • Reduce the burden of steep return costs
  • Cut down IT and support ticket times
  • Optimize your returns process
  • Leverage a more efficient, in-house alternative to third-party outsourcing
  • Elevate customer satisfaction within a process that traditionally breeds dissatisfaction

Discover how automated SMS simultaneously elevates returns logistics and customer experience. And see how Delivery Solutions facilitates this process. 

Growth of SMS usage in business

As mobile phones become an increasingly essential aspect of daily life for many people year-to-year, their importance and prominence are also rising in e-commerce. We’ve collected a few stats for you as you consider how SMS fits into your returns process.

Stats about mobile usage among consumers:

Stats about SMS usage among consumers:

  • 93% of US shoppers are interested in or currently receive text messages from brands, a percentage that’s been increasing over the past few years.
  • 63% of global consumers interact with brands via SMS at least twice weekly.
  • 85% of consumers who sign up for a brand’s SMS list also sign up for their email list. 
  • Most shoppers worldwide are more likely to purchase from a brand after signing up to receive SMS messages.
  • 65% of consumers are more likely to purchase on their phones after receiving a text from the brand about a sale. 
  • Texting is consumers' preferred channel for reaching out to customer service. Talking on the phone with them is among their least favorite activities.

Delivery Solutions SMS order updates(Image Source)

Stats about SMS usage by brands:

  • SMS is one of the top three marketing channels driving brand revenue growth.
  • 71% of brands saw increased SMS opt-in rates over the last year.

How brands use SMS in business:

  • 79% of marketers use SMS as a customer retention channel.
  • 25% use it as a customer service channel. 
  • 93% of brands have integrated SMS with existing systems in some way. 78% have integrated it with their e-commerce processes, and 26% have integrated it with their CRM.
  • 86% of brands sent SMS messages to customers last year. 

Benefits of using automated SMS for D2C returns

As 73% of consumers shop with a retailer based on the returns                      experience, automated SMS returns can be vital in providing the best returns experience possible. You and your customers both benefit greatly from automated SMS returns.

Instant communication channel

Automated SMS provides immediate updates on the return status. This ensures customers stay informed without delays. They learn in real-time when the return is received, when it’s inspected, and when their refund or exchange is processed. 

This visibility gives customers peace of mind and a positive impression of your brand. The transparency of SMS updates also builds customer trust.

In addition, automated SMS helps you set and manage customer expectations on the front end.

Automated SMS instant reply example

Efficient information exchange

Automated SMS messages streamline the return process and create a seamless customer experience. They instantly deliver concise return instructions, updates, and tracking details. These brief and focused messages ensure customers understand the process and requirements. 

By providing accurate, real-time information, they reduce the chance of misunderstandings or errors, such as incorrect tracking numbers or return instructions.

Customers can also refer to the SMS to review information and correspondence. This allows for a more convenient and user-friendly return process. 

Integration with systems

45% of consumers report a frustrating degree of inconsistency in                        returns policies and returns experience across channels. 40% of companies with multi-channel customer support admit to a lack of visibility across channels.

SMS integrates seamlessly with existing systems, such as inventory management or order processing systems. This smooth data flow streamlines the return process, ensuring data consistency and reducing errors.

Integration enables real-time inventory levels, return status, and refund processing updates. This ensures customers receive accurate and up-to-date information about their returns.

Integration also removes the need for manual data entry and reconciliation, improving overall efficiency. And it provides valuable data for analysis and improvement.

Finally, seamless integration of in-house systems through automated SMS helps keep the overall returns process centralized and in-house. 

You won’t have to outsource service to an unrelated third-party system, where customer information gets inconsistently repeated and scattered across channels.

Self-service options

Self-service automated returns give customers a sense of control over their return process. Customers can initiate and track returns independently using an automated SMS returns process. These self-service options decrease the need for customer service agents. 

Reducing the need for manual intervention empowers customers to manage returns themselves. They can initiate returns, track them, and receive updates on the status of their refunds or exchanges directly through SMS. 

This convenience saves time, effort, and resources for both customers and your business. Self-service options also drive customer engagement with your brand.

Finally, the choice of when and how to initiate a return and the ability to track its progress enhances the overall brand experience for customers.

90% of businesses plan on investing further in self-service customer support options.

Self-service SMS customer return

Reduced dependency on phone support

79% of consumers believe that returns take too long to process

With self-service options and instant updates, automated SMS reduces the need for phone follow-up. Customers are less likely to call phone support for return inquiries, saving them and customer support teams time. 

Customers can initiate returns, receive updates, and resolve issues quickly and conveniently. They don't need to wait for customer service hours, wait on hold, or navigate through phone menus.

SMS can also handle a large volume of customer interactions simultaneously. This makes it easier to scale support operations during peak times without increasing phone support staff or outsourcing to third parties for help.

Automated SMS returns help companies reduce the need for dedicated phone support staff. This results in savings on labor, third-party contracts, and other related costs.

39% of businesses with multi-channel support have successfully                      replaced phone calls with more convenient and inexpensive support channels.

Cost savings

Automated SMS lowers operational costs by reducing the need for manual intervention and phone support. It also boosts operational efficiency as a more economical support channel than phone or email. 

SMS allows companies to handle far more return requests with fewer resources. Implementing automated SMS returns also requires less infrastructure than setting up a call center or managing email support.

In addition, reduced errors in the return process result in savings from related costs.

Automated responses to common queries

Frequently sought-out information regarding returns includes policies, status updates, and refund timelines. Automated SMS responses provide customers with immediate answers to these common queries.

This instant access to information reduces the need for customers to wait for a response from customer service.

Automated responses are also available 24/7, which allows customers to get the information they need anytime, even outside regular business hours. This flexibility enhances the customer experience and reduces the burden on customer service teams.

Automated SMS responses also ensure that customers receive consistent and accurate information. This reduces the likelihood of confusion or misunderstandings.

Finally, automated responses free up support reps to focus on more complex inquiries, improving overall efficiency and reducing response times.

Automated SMS replies on phone

Data-driven insights

Two-way conversations with customers via SMS provide valuable data. Deeper insights from analyzing this data can help you better tailor your return process to meet customer needs.

It lets you send personalized messages based on customer behavior, preferences, and pain points. This personalized customer experience can drive engagement and increase satisfaction.

Analyzing return data also helps you identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the return process. Based on the findings, you can make informed decisions to optimize operations, save money, and enhance customer experience.

Insights from SMS data can help predict future return trends so you can proactively address issues before they escalate. This, in turn, can reduce your return rate and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Regularly analyzing data helps you improve your return processes and customer service strategies. This iterative approach ensures efficiency and effectiveness over time.

Proactive issue resolution

You can identify and address problems before they escalate using automated SMS. By doing so, you can prevent potential negative experiences for customers. 

Customers are more likely to view your business positively and remain loyal if it demonstrates a commitment to addressing their needs quickly and effectively. You show that your brand values its customers and their concerns. Therefore, you improve your brand’s reputation. 

Proactively resolving issues also reduces the need for customer service representatives to handle escalated cases. This saves time and resources for both your business and the customer.

Finally, offering proactive solutions via SMS can help prevent the need for a return, reducing your return rate.

Enhanced customer experience

As detailed in the previous sections, automated SMS returns enhance customer satisfaction and boost loyalty by:

  • Providing transparency and visibility into the returns process and refund status
  • Delivering timely, accurate, and relevant information
  • Reducing the time and effort involved in making a return
  • Being accessible 24/7, at the customer’s convenience
  • Offering a personalized experience
  • Streamlining and simplifying the overall process

92% of consumers prefer shopping at a retailer that offers a smooth return experience. Automated SMS returns can give you a competitive advantage by helping create that sought-after experience.

Automated SMS refund status message

How to implement an automated SMS returns process

Let’s look at implementing an automated SMS returns process in your business. 

1. Return initiation

The first step is providing customers with a simple method of initiating a return request via SMS. Within your order fulfillment confirmation email or text, provide a dedicated phone number or simple keyword for customers to text if they need to initiate a return.

Pre-configure an automated returns script that triggers the appropriate response based on the customer’s replies. 

This allows you to confirm the customer’s account and order information. It also enables you to troubleshoot, validate return eligibility, and determine the choice of refund or exchange. 

Delivery Solutions’  platform has capabilities that enable you to create branded and customized SMS messages directly from the platform.

2. Compliance and regulations

Ensure your automated SMS messages comply with regulations like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Confirm customers opt in to receive messages from your brand and offer the option to opt out. Also, inform them that message and data rates may apply, depending on their phone service and plan.

Automated SMS unsubscribe prompt

3. Confirmation via SMS

Text to confirm the receipt of a return request and to inform the customer whether their request was accepted or denied based on eligibility. Then, provide instructions for the next steps.

Include clear, concise information about return policies, including deadlines and any required documentation. Give an estimated timeline for processing the return.

4. Return tracking and updates

Provide customers with a way to track the status of their return via SMS. This can be texting back their order tracking number or a specific keyword. Send automated SMS updates at key stages of the return process, such as:

  • Receipt of the returned item
  • Completion of processing
  • Issuance of refund

Delivery Solutions integrates seamlessly with your existing systems, and it helps your existing systems work better together. The platform enables you to customize, brand, and automate SMS updates. Deliver immediate, real-time tracking updates to your customers from a single source. And reach out as your brand, not the brand of your third-party systems software.

5. Customer feedback

Make sure to automate feedback requests as well. After completing the return process, send an automated SMS requesting feedback on the experience. 

You can automate a short survey script or build an external survey with a shareable link. Make the customer’s “yes” response the trigger to text the feedback method automatically.

Then, use this feedback to identify areas for improvement in your returns process and customer service.

Get started with automated SMS returns today

Streamlining D2C returns With automated SMS, backed by Delivery Solutions’ platform, will revolutionize your returns process with:

  • Cost savings
  • Streamlined customer support
  • Efficient customer returns
  • Insourced processes
  • Satisfied customers

Delivery Solutions integrates with your existing systems to help you institute automated SMS returns. Experience this capability and more by                          booking a demo today and learning about its full suite of features. 

About the author

Ryan Caldarone

Ryan is a Sr. Digital Marketing Manager with over ten years of experience in B2B eCommerce, specializing in brand storytelling and content. Having contributed to hundreds of creative projects for SMBs and startups across the tech, energy, and fine arts sectors, Ryan brings diverse expertise. He earned his B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Rhode Island. He is deeply passionate about synthesizing complex ideas into compelling narratives, particularly in B2B spaces where unique partnerships result from new perspectives.


Topics from this blog: Solutions Ecommerce Returns

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