Establish clear warehouse return processes before Black Friday hits

Over the past 2 years, online shopping has significantly increased and Britons are expected to spend billions on online shopping alone during Black Friday, However, this could create a headache for online retailers, who don’t have clear return procedures in place in their warehouse, as over eager shoppers send back unwanted items bought hastily during the period of lower prices.

On a daily basis, in warehouses across the country there are thousands of packages coming in for returns. Many warehouses are struggling to cope with the high volume of returns due to ageing software and lacking in the correct processes to cope with both dispatch and returns.

Return procedures are fundamentally complex because of how they impact physical inventory, electronic inventory and accounting systems.  All returned items must be identified, assigned to a customer or account, assigned a disposition and then physically sorted for processing.  Since some of the product might be discarded or kept back for vendor chargeback’s, not all merchandise enters electronic inventory; some merchandise must be repacked and accounted for manually versus electronically.

The rise of online shopping in particular has led to an increase in the number of customers buying items over the internet – especially during sales – without being totally sure about the purchase with the expectation they can return them once they’ve arrived.

Online returns now amount to as much as one-third of sales with the average return rate for fashion items bought online is 23%

Historically, businesses have always been responsive to returns, but the increasing expectations among customers to be able to do this as easily as buying the item in the first place, has put a far bigger emphasis on handling returns as a central customer service function – rather than an add-on.

Moreover, increasing choice over delivery options, including free and same day delivery, has led to more customers expecting the same service when they return items, rather than the historically drawn out process returns has often been viewed as.

Dealing with a higher number of returns has put more financial and time pressures on the supply chain, and businesses are now battling to get returned items picked up, logged, checked for damage and back in circulation as soon as possible.

Whether your company manages the distribution of its own products or outsources logistical services to a 3PL, the ability to provide return services is fully dependent upon the capabilities of your WMS. WMS cloud software provides the ability to process all types of returns with high speed modules—some even with specialised functions for goods such as clothing, publishing, spirits, and more.

Top Key Benefits of WMS:

  • Damaged Goods can be quarantined and dealt with promptly for repackaging or disposal.
  • Essential for E-commerce businesses who need to manage high returns volumes.
  • Quickly identify re-usable stock so that it can be relocated for order picking.
  • Complete Traceability allows you to track and monitor the levels and types of returns.
  • Integrates with ERP systems to ensure credits, replacements are done promptly to maintain customer satisfaction levels.

In every supply chain process today, return procedures are an important area that needs to be effectively dealt with. In today’s competitive business environment, companies can no longer focus only on forward supply chain management and ignore reverse supply chains.

Organisations that implement an effective returns management solution, in conjunction with a WMS system, is more likely to be able to improve customer service and response times; reduce environmental impact by reducing waste and improve overall profitability.

Key Benefits To Your Business:

Customer Service

As with all customer service functions, increasing the choice for consumers and making return processes as easy as possible is always front of mind.

By continuously optimising delivery and returns functions, there’s a great opportunity to stand out amongst your competitors. These improvements could include reducing pick up times and expanding the number of locations where customers can drop items off.

The technology to improve this service already exists within the supply chain, WMS, stock monitoring and recording and delivery tracking are already central components of e-commerce in particular so can easily be brought in the improve the returns function.

Commercial Advantages

As well as using returns as a customer service resource, the sheer volume of returned items being processed on a daily basis means that getting items checked and back in circulation quickly is mounting a serious commercial challenge to the bottom line of many businesses.

Especially considering that nearly a quarter of sales end up not being sales at all.

One thing that businesses must be able to do quickly is log returned items and redistribute them quickly, often at a reduced cost. Understanding how to evaluate the condition of returned items is essential to ensuring minimum disruption.

Ensuring returns policies and processes are as streamlined and effective as possible is key to getting the best business result from the increasing customer practice, and is something all businesses will have to become more proficient at given that e-commerce is only likely to grow in popularity in the coming years.

Supply Chain Visibility

This need for complete visibility across the entire supply network is vital for businesses and creating a more transparent and ‘joined up’ return process is the only way a company can survive in the face of increasing returns.

The technology to do this already exists in the form of WMS, stock monitoring, mobile communication and tracking.

The average returned purchase in the UK goes through seven pairs of hands before it is listed for resale, according to a report in the Financial Times, which amounts to an incredible amount of waste in the supply chain and disruption to getting products back on sale.

Connected technology now allows for items to be scanned anywhere in the country and instantly uploaded to a central point – like a distribution warehouse – and for managers to reassign where the item needs to be sent, before it is returned to the warehouse.

Dealing with returns has become an essential business function and customer service requirement in the modern business world, and those which fail to grasp this fact are only going to fall further behind the competition as the expectations on simple returns increases. Software solutions can help speed returns management by providing user profiles and workflows that define supply chain partners and processes; labelling and documentation that track the material; and Web-based portals and exception-based reporting to deliver information for timely reconciliation.

About us:

Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale/retail distribution, online fulfilment, and manufacturing warehousing.