Managing Returns

Posted on 09-05-2016

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With the growth of online retail dominating the headlines, there’s a strong focus on sales. The question on our minds is how companies are managing their returns. This is an area that can negatively effect the bottom line but also a brand’s reputation.

It’s vital to have a clear and well-communicated process in place for returns. This should include the customer but also implications to stock levels. Looking at the fashion brands, it’s not a far fetched assumption that returns can be extremely high and not because the items are faulty.

Effective strategies and processes for managing returns can give your brand a competitive advantage, as we’ve seen with popular online brands. If you can make this process a stress-free process, your customers will thank you for it and you can build brand loyalty.

By mapping out your returns process from the customer returning the item, how they do that, to the reverse logistics, sorting and processing the goods (return to stock / faulty) you can identity hot spots that need to be improved. For business operations but also customer brand experience.

The quicker you can get ‘return to stock’ items back ‘on the shelf’ the quicker you can also improve cash flow. Speed is of the essence but make sure you’re not sacrificing efficiency. Improving your customer brand experience will have a positive impact on your profitability as you build loyalty and repeat purchases. Here are some tips to optimise and improve managing returns in your business :

• Have a clear, simple returns policy outlined and communicated well

• Map your processes to identify hot spots and how you can improve the process

• Manage your returns as you would another cost centre in the business

• Provide personnel with appropriate training for managing returns

The nature of returns will be different from business to business depending on the product, market and other variable factors. Successful companies today recognise the importance of managing returns and how this can gain your brand a competitive advantage.