In this episode of the "What Happens When You Click Buy" content series, we discuss the challenges of managing returns in ecommerce fulfillment.
Customers often return items after purchasing them, and as supply chain professionals, it's our responsibility to handle these returns effectively.
There are two primary considerations in the returns process:
Sometimes shipping costs outweigh special handling expenses at your warehouse or facility. Deciding whether to ask for a return or let customers keep their unwanted items is essential. Note that the item may be in a different condition than when shipped out and require rework processes like washing or repairing. Alternatively, products could be donated if no longer sellable but still usable by others.
Managing returns can be done either internally or through reverse logistics-specific third-party providers (3PLs). While outsourcing offers potential cost savings due to optimized warehouses designed for handling returns, managing your own gives more flexibility and control over unique customer experiences.
To streamline the process further, automation is critical: automating decisions on whether inventory needs returning based on real-time shipping rates versus resale value; building rules-based engines that manage vendor-specific actions needed upon receiving returned goods; and automating outbound processes such as donations or destruction of unsellable items.