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Dealing With Online Returns

Ride the wave of post-holiday send-backs like a pro.

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This story appears in the January 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you're an e-retailer, you can expect a certain share of your merchandise to be returned once the busy holiday season ends. Generally, returns are a cost center--and a pain in the neck. But there are ways to ease that pain.

Consider Swell Commerce Inc., a 40-employee e-tailer in San Juan Capistrano, California, that sells surf lifestyle apparel and accessories. About three years ago, Swell began using SmartLabel, from Newgistics Inc. of Austin, Texas. It's a service that can be used by businesses with at least 10,000 nonstore returns a year, a good fit for Swell's $12 million to $15 million in annual sales.

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