Are Ecommerce and Retail Returns Eating Into Your Profits?
As retailers and ecommerce providers know all too well, the systems and processes in place to handle returned merchandise can have a significant impact on profitability as well as brand reputation. Consumers are increasingly shopping from the comfort of their own homes, without ever having seen or handled the products they are purchasing and as a result, retailers are seeing a significant increase in returns. It’s no surprise that the cost of handling ecommerce and retail returns can be quite high, chipping away at the bottom line, despite the fact that many retailers’ return policies are becoming stricter. In fact, six out of 10 reported changing their returns policies, including reducing the time buyers have to send an item back, charging fees or informing shoppers they’ll have to cover return shipping costs themselves.
After investing significant resources to ensure your products are of high quality, accurately depicted and described on the website, and confirmed with the buyer, what can be done to reduce the impact of reverse logistics?
In a recent Supply and Demand Chain Executive article, DTG president Steve Shaheen shared key steps to consider to ensure a more efficient reverse logistics process, including:
Communicate clear policies for retail returns. Ensure your ecommerce and retail return policies clearly document which products can be returned or exchanged, what conditions must be met for products to be returned, how long customers have to return items, by what means they should return the product and how long they should expect to wait for receipt of an exchanged item or a refund. Clarifying this information up front will reduce time, costs, waste and customer surprises later.
Create a plan for all returned products. Identify early which products can be resold and how they will be added back into inventory. Identify spike periods, workforce needs and technology solutions to enable workers to efficiently receive and restock returned merchandise that can be resold, dispose of defective merchandise that cannot be resold and rapidly but safely pick, pack, label and ship exchanged items to customers.
Arm staff with the digital tools needed to efficiently conduct reverse logistics. Advanced warehouse management systems (WMS), battery-powered mobile workstations, RFID readers and other devices not only accelerate operations and streamline workflow processes, but also reduce errors and improve safety. And, the data that can be gathered with these automated systems can be analyzed to help inform future plans for even greater efficiency.
Reduce waste in your processes. The returns process is already fraught with waste—wasted packaging, transportation, and staff hours spent picking, packing, labeling, shipping, and processing refunds. Leverage tools that enable you to quickly resolve issues by untethering employees from fixed workstations and enabling them to safely access applications, products and data at the point of task, and eliminate wasted movement.
The dreaded returns processes opens the opportunity for retailers and ecommerce providers with to improve their brand image, as well as their bottom line, through a positive customer experience. This is significant when you consider that according to PWC, 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.
Be on the right side of that statistic with DTG battery-powered mobile workstations. Contact us today to learn how DTG can improve your reverse logistics operations.