Last week, our Commercial Director, Ben Balfour, wrote an article which originally appeared on Supply Chain Brain, discussing effective reverse chain logistics and how to protect your bottom line.
Key points to note :
Below, we’ve rounded up some key takeaways from Ben’s article, from gaining a competitive advantage to tackling the challenges around the increasingly popular ‘try-before-you-buy’ trend.
- Retailers can no longer rely on providing the right product at the right price. Customer service is increasingly taking centre stage, particularly as customers are making more and more returns. Make sure your customer service is consistent and of high quality across all points of contact.
- The introduction of ‘try-before-you-buy’ is likely to become more prevalent as retailers are continually pushing the envelope to increase sales. This is sure to have an effect on the rate of returns, and an intelligent reverse logistics process is essential to keep profit margins healthy.
- It has been speculated that some retailers will start to charge for their returns service. Although a bold move, consumers aren’t focused solely on cost; they want convenience. A recent study reported 60 per cent of online shoppers wouldn’t use a retailer again if their returns process proved difficult.
- To reduce returns, savvy retailers are investing in increasingly sophisticated technology to help consumers find the right product online, including extensive questionnaires and even AI.
- Product recalls and products such as white goods also contribute to reverse logistics. To reduce waste and sustainability issues, it’s vital that these products processing — handling, transportation and resting place — is as efficient as possible.
- Retailers should be taking advantage of complete-visibility supply chains, including returned goods. Products should be graded, re-packed, refurbished and returned to prime stock. Where that isn’t possible, the product should be prepared for resale on alternative marketplaces.
- Visibility of stock in real time is often the biggest challenge. Managing stock across multiple distribution centres, warehouses and stores, plus returns on a global journey, requires careful planning. Having the right stock in the right place at the right time is fundamental to protecting the bottom line.
- Data-rich systems offer retailers the opportunity to mine highly valuable business intelligence and data analysis to make informed, and ultimately more effective, commercial decisions to maximise residual value from returns. For example, analysing the flow of goods in and out of the business will identify the buying habits of consumers, equipping retailers with information to allow them to better plan for future seasons and trends.