Ways to Ensure a Viable Returns Management Policy

Person holding parcelsHaving a viable returns management policy retains customers. As per a Harris Poll survey, 95 percent of shoppers say that they will buy products from a company again if it improves its returns process. Managing returns is a challenging activity in logistics. Ensuring an effective approach to the returns process is high time, especially with the growing network of suppliers as well as competitors.

Think Strategically

To have an effective returns management policy, consider returns management as a strategic endpoint to broaden your supply chain objectives. With the correct policies, your relationship with customers is enhanced. This can be done by seeing returns management as a cross-functional process. Keep together the right business units to work on the strategy, from sales, operations, finance, to logistics. Companies that know the overlapping nature of returns management keep more fresh goods on the market and, hence, a better profitability position.

Create Gatekeeping and Avoidance Policies

Gatekeeping policies are those screening policies that determine which products are returned. Better gatekeeping procedures should be strict enough to know which should be returned. Avoidance policies can help simplify product lines, making more logistics systems more responsive to avoid too much inventory, as well as putting quality control measures to avoid returns. With better avoidance policies, a firm can solve many gatekeeping and disposition issues along the return flow.

Develop Operational Policies that Handle Returns

Worker scanning the box barcodeA good way to handle returns effectively is to automate workflow and improve visibility. Automating workflow will capture every step of the returns process. Visibility helps in planning staff and disposition opportunities without delay. With automation and visibility, the returns process becomes more predictable. An example of this policy is using web-based portals and bar-coded identifiers. Another operational policy that handles returns is determining disposition earlier to recoup value. Goods that need to be sold again should be re-inserted to the supply chain as soon as possible.

Utilize Novel Returns Management Technologies

The use of emerging returns management technologies is another aspect that needs to be considered to effectively come up with a viable returns management policy. The use of bar-coded data on a customer’s transaction history has been an efficient staple for companies. It has definitely lowered transportation costs, improved customer service, and strengthened inventory management. However, newer technologies like a disposition engine and dynamic pricing (using data science and machine learning) are even making identification and prediction more precise. Through disposition engines, a retailer can decrease touches and reinvigorate sales. Through data, disposition engines can produce real-time disposition decisions in no time. Intelligent dynamic pricing uses big data to examine how online reviews and ratings are made. Insights from the analyses improve knowledge on market demand.

The returns process is getting more and more complex. Considering that returns are hard to identify and expect, the challenge to put up a formidable policy to keep customers coming back is very important. From better gatekeeping policies to the use of newer returns management technologies, improving returns management spells good fortunes to a retailer.