In our experience, the clothing sector feels it most, but almost any business or public sector organisation will be impacted if their reverse logistics strategy isn’t working efficiently.
Streamlining the returns process
Returning items that are unwanted, faulty or which are destined for other uses must flow as smoothly as possible for you and your customers. This keeps costs down, prevents abuse of the system, and helps control cash flow and asset investment. It can help you achieve your sustainability goals, and in retail it gives a great impression of your brand as reputable, honest and sympathetic.
The power behind the efficiency of a returns process is the warehouse management module within our fulfilment system that keeps track of the parcel as it’s in transit to our warehouse, and as it passes through various stages within our warehouse too.
Fulfilment in reverse
Reverse logistics is often the same process as despatch and fulfilment, only in reverse.
- Packaged up and relabelled by the customer
- Handed to a carrier and scanned for tracking
- Quality control checked upon arrival at our warehouse
- Repackaged, repaired or recycled
- Made available for resale ASAP
However, there may be a requirement for additional workflows, for example to divert damaged goods, or to filter items to particular locations. Bespoke workflows are easily managed through SCOPe.
SCOPe, our fulfilment technology, includes a warehouse management module that handles the complex requirements of reverse logistics. It does the heavy lifting, allowing all systems in the chain, whatever they are – to exchange information using our API and multi-carrier integration.
Process automation means we can track orders from your systems through ours and through delivery carriers’ systems too. Client needs are at the heart of this. Products won’t ever go missing. From the perspective of returns, you’ll have full visibility of location and status, and the ability to respond to cash forecasts and resources immediately.
The data requirements of a reverse logistics process
The key to a robust reverse logistics strategy is a framework that facilitates and enhances efficiency. A fulfilment system should:
- Provide you with exactly the same detailed information about a returning item as for an item that has been despatched.
- Include MI that allows forecasting, so you can adjust resources when necessary.
- Allow for visibility of the full range of stages and options of a return. This includes:
- Quality checks that pass (condition as despatched)
- Fail (customer has removed labels, damaged the item, or not followed the correct returns procedure)
- Give value beyond the technological framework in the form of skilled workers who can quickly and accurately complete quality checks with great attention to detail; an efficient team truly reduces the cost burden of the return.
Should we handle both despatch and returns?
SCOPe’s warehousing management system allows for the efficient fulfilment of orders as well as returns. Granby does both, for a wide range of clients.
We also handle fulfilment or returns on their own. In some cases, our clients benefit from splitting despatch and returns. In other words, sometimes it’s better if the 3PL company that handles your despatch doesn’t handle your returns too.
- Splitting despatch and returns allows you more flexibility.
- A 3PL partner will always prioritise outbound items over returns – this is as it should be, though in the event you need to get items back on sale quickly to minimise cash flow stress, it’s not ideal.