If your retail business enjoyed high-sales volume during the holidays, that’s awesome news. Clearly you stocked up on merchandise your customers wanted. And happy customers should translate to brand loyalty down the road.
But there is a flipside to be prepared for – how to efficiently process returns. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), “one in three gift recipients returned at least one item during the holiday season.”
But, the returns process isn’t so simple, especially for omnichannel retailers. It used to be that a customer had to go back to the same store to return an item. It’s not that way anymore.
A report about multichannel retailing from Gartner, the technology research firm, found that returns now come from many channels, and that makes the return process complicated. “A product bought online in Georgia and shipped from a Memphis distribution center could be returned in a store in Houston and sent via mail to a returns center in Ohio.”
Yes, that definitely makes things complicated. And that means there needs to be reverse logistics in place to ensure the process runs smoothly.
“Products returned to stores need to be rapidly added to the inventory to start the return journey.” For reverse logistics to work, retailers must “create efficient systems to track and value the flow of product.”
If you don’t have a good system in place for handling returns, all that positive action during the holidays could turn negative. Brand loyalty is fickle. Your customers won’t care if returning an item is complicated for you. All they care about is getting a refund or a replacement.
Since the heart of your business is inventory, get an inventory service team to strategize ways to efficiently handle an otherwise complicated process.