The reverse logistics industry is growing and changing rapidly right now, especially when it comes to processes and returns handling.
Although your 3rd party logistics company or in-house warehouse is doing great, there’s always room for improvement.
These are some of the most important trends in reverse logistics right now:
More Ways to Dispose of Products That Can’t Be Directly Resold
The traditional route for disposal of unexpired products that are too dated to sell or can’t be resold for a large enough margin for other reasons has been either selling them for scrap or paying for disposal in landfills.
There are a few emerging channels that have the potential to recapture more income while still dealing with unwanted returned merchandise, the most important being eCommerce liquidation auctions and offshoring.
Increasingly, eCommerce companies are taking the liquidation straight to the end-buyer with online auctions, saving a bundle in disposal costs and recapturing more value than by bulk selling unwanted goods. Offshoring provides interesting opportunities for products in saturated markets, like American electronics. Exporting everyday goods creates a demand among status buyers who want difficult-to-purchase items like exports and will often pay much more than domestic shoppers for the “import” label.
Smart Retail Returns Practices
Because customers return roughly 30 percent of online goods, it’s becoming a bigger and more costly enterprise to do business online for both eCommerce and bricks-and-clicks organizations.
These sometimes-challenging times call for smarter practices to both curb the number of returns coming in and the cost of freight for these items. Smart retail returns policies require critical thinking at various levels and more flexible ways to accept items that do come back.
For example, when a customer comes into a retail location to return an item, the person accepting it should be able to report the problem in detail, rather than being forced to choose from a limited list of explanations.
If a product doesn’t look the same online as it does in person, that shouldn’t be force-filed under “wrong color,” the problem with the website should be reportable so the site can be changed or the product description updated accordingly if that SKU is returned regularly and for the same reason. Capturing this data is vital to ultimately reducing returns.
The Core of a Good Returns Policy
Utilizing an omni-returns policy is another way to be both customer-forward and cost-saving when it comes to reverse logistics.
Customers who have an easier time returning their items are happier customers. Pre-paid shipping labels allow you to control the flow and cost of return freight, but allowing shoppers to bring items back to a warehouse or retail location cuts out the shipping cost entirely.
By offering more flexible options, consumers can choose how to send their unwanted items back and you will inevitably save on shipping because some will want to do their returns in person.
The sands are constantly shifting underfoot for retailers who handle returns, but that doesn’t mean you should throw your hands up in frustration. Your dedicated returns management team or reverse logistics service can help you implement smart returns processes, make it easier for you to harness the power of omni-returns policies and even enable access to those offshore resellers who will be more than happy to move your product from a saturated domestic market to one where there is much more demand.