According to the National Retail Federation, more than $60 billion of merchandise is returned each year. This number, while already staggering, continues to rise each year. As more customers migrate to online shopping, we are faced with a higher likelihood of returns.
This is a challenge. Regardless of the time of year, we are constantly trying to combat customer returns. We do not want to deal with inventory management, repackaging, or remanufacturing. Why would we?
The returns process is often a headache, and therefore something we fail to face head-on. But we can no longer afford to sweep it under a rug. We have a problem, and it’s got to do with reverse logistics!
Here are 3 brilliant ways to solve reverse logistics issues to minimize losses and maximize customer satisfaction.
Centralize Data for Better Tracking & Reports
As a business that sells products, you have to deal with product returns. Without investments in technology to streamline your reverse logistics process, you could face some very challenging obstacles. The key to your longevity as a business is centralized data.
By storing and accessing data from a central location, everyone in your organization has visibility into the customer lifecycle. They can run reports on a number of statistics and see shipping statuses and track returns for better inventory management.
Since many of your products depreciate in value throughout the returns process – never mind the losses you are or will experience without centralized data – this is a must-have.
Use Pre-Paid Shipping to Ensure Timely Delivery
Integrated shipping into a centralized system is also ideal. The primary reason is to ensure timely delivery of items both at the time of a purchase and at the time of a return. You do not want to mail out a replacement item without receiving the original item in return. And you certainly do not want to wait too long to send a replacement and risk disappointing your customers further.
Pre-paid labels help with this. They keep customer satisfaction high and simplify the process for everyone involved. Also, when customers know that return shipping is free, they tend to be more likely to purchase the items they want.
By establishing relationships with top shipping carriers like UPS and FedEx, you can also leverage their data to ensure the lowest return shipping costs. This helps you determine the easiest, most affordable way to manage returned inventory.
Offer a Customer Portal to Empower Self-Service
Automation has changed the way we do business. Customers tend to feel empowered by self-service portals. They help expedite processes by cutting out the middleman, which is great for your business because it means less staff is required to man the phones.
If there is a way for them to fix their own issues through the form of a quick exchange, that is even better. You can gather more information from them faster by requiring a few upfront questions and following up with a survey. They will feel appreciated and well taken care of while you watch them do the work for you.
Have you tried other ways to solve common reverse logistics issues? Share them in the comments below!