One recent survey forecasts that more than 70% of con- sumers expect to do at leasthalf of their shopping online thisyear (due in part to COVID- 19). Sohow can warehouses and fulfillmentcenters prepare for what’s practically guaranteed to result in a re-cord-breaking number of returns thisholiday season? Let’s look at how andwhy this year will be a whole different beast than the supply chain is accustomed to dealing with.
Let’s start with free return shipping. If the customer isn’t satisfiedwith their purchase, charging themreturn shipping is a guaranteed way tolose a customer, maybe for good. Thesecond issue is quick and hassle-freereturns. Expectations for streamlinedreturns must be met or you could endup reading about it on social media.It comes as no surprise that both factors are byproducts of “the Amazoneffect.” It’s not enough that our purchases should arrive fast, accurate andfree, but the same is expected shouldwe need to return our purchase.
Distributors everywhere grapplewith difficult questions like, “Whatis the reason for this return?” and “Isthis item sellable or do we need tosend it back to our supplier for credit?” and “Did the customer even buyit from us?” While some might passoff returns as primarily an e-commerce or retail issue, the fact of thematter is that returns create distinctchallenges all distributors must face.Beyond the cost to ship returns, thereare costs associated with processing,restocking and reselling returnedgoods that can’t be overlooked.
Is Your Warehouse Ready for anOnslaught of Holiday Returns?
Reducing the occurrence of errors in order fulfillment will lead to fewer returned orders,which means fewer complaints from customers. By Eric Allais
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One of the worst examples I’ve seen involves a companythat distributed much of their small, blister-packaged fasteners to retailers. When the company would receive returns,they’d arrive in huge boxes without any organization at all.Instead of dealing with the cost of sorting through these new,perfectly resaleable items and returning them to the warehouse shelves, this company would simply trash the returns.