Returns in logistics
"Returns" is a logistics term often used in retail and e-commerce. It refers to the return of goods from the customer to the seller. This can happen due to various reasons, such as product defects, wrong deliveries or simple displeasure from the customer. Returns management is an important task in logistics as it affects efficiency and customer satisfaction. It involves processing returns, inspecting the returned goods and deciding on the further use of the goods. Returns can also be a financial burden for companies as they involve costs for transport, storage and loss of goods. Therefore, many companies aim to minimise the rate of returns.
The returns process usually involves returning the goods, refunding the purchase price and possibly replacing the item. Returns are an important aspect of customer service and satisfaction. They also play a role in the merchandise management and logistics of companies.
The returns process in online retailing usually looks like this:
- Requesting the return: The customer notifies their intention to return the goods, usually via an online returns centre on the retailer's website or via a customer service channel.
- Return policy: The retailer provides the customer with instructions on the return conditions, including the time period within which the return must be made and information on whether the cost of the return is borne by the customer or the retailer.
- Return label: In some cases, the trader provides a return label that the customer can stick on the package to facilitate the return.
- Returning the package: The customer wraps the items securely in the original packaging or other suitable packaging and drops the package off at a delivery service provider to return it to the retailer.
- Verification of the return: After the retailer receives the returned package, they inspect the condition of the returned items to ensure they meet the return policy.
- Refund or exchange: If the return is accepted, the retailer will refund the purchase price or exchange the items according to the customer's wishes.
Returns in online retail can also be reduced by using software. Here are some ways you can use software solutions to reduce the number of returns:
- Inventory management: Effective inventory management software can ensure that product availability is updated in real time. When customers see that a product is available, this reduces the risk of incorrect purchases due to outdated stock information.
- Smart shipping notifications: Implement software that notifies customers when their orders have shipped and provides an estimated time of arrival. By providing clear and timely information, customers can better manage their expectations and reduce the need for returns.
- Prevent order errors: Implement technologies such as automatic address validation and order checks to ensure customers provide accurate and correct information. This can reduce ordering errors that could lead to returns.
By using software solutions effectively, the customer shopping experience can be improved and the number of returns reduced, while increasing the efficiency and profitability of online retail.