5 ways to improve your returns processing

July 30, 2020 Casey Nighbor

The pandemic caused a surge in online shopping last year, with a reported 30 percent increase in eCommerce sales. It’s been estimated that $115 billion in merchandise will be returned through the end of January 2021, up from $100 billion in 2019.

In addition, 8 percent of all purchases made in the U.S. are returned. If done incorrectly, returns processing can be an expensive and difficult business.

But handling returns does not have to be a burden on your operation. We've gathered 5 quick ways to improve your returns processing operation.

1. Prepare your warehouse

Returns take up a lot of space and processing them efficiently means that they are just stuck wherever you have room. Take the time to plan out a space. Ideally, they should be close to your inbound dock and has adequate staging areas to store and then process returns.

It should also be a place where supplies and equipment is easily located so that returns can be quickly processed and organized back into stock without disrupting your other warehouse operations. Putting thought into your returns space can cut down on extra steps and streamline the process.

2. Simplify

Take a look at your returns process. How many steps does it take to process a return and restock it? Are employees forced to take extra steps to find the barcode or return information? Streamlining and simplifying this process is an easy way to speed up your return times.

3. Plan for trash

Returns generate a lot of trash. Figure out the process for storing, sorting and removing trash and recycling. Doing so means that work is not hindered by a cluttered work area and nothing will get lost.

4. Control restocking

Some of the best returns operations process returns and restock them within 24-36 hours. They can do this so quickly because their restocking process is organized and straight-forward. Identifying and sorting items prior to putting them in picking locations can reduce the time required to restock. Having enough storage that is well labeled means that restocking can be quickly completed.

5. Partner with an output-based staffing company

Imagine a staffing model where you manage your workforce based on output, not headcount. Instead of worrying how many people you need in your building, you manage staff based on the amount of returns that need to be processed or the inventory that needs to be shipped.

With an output-based staffing strategy like SIMOS, your operation can reduce the number of steps in your production and increase efficiency quickly in your returns processing operation. Managing a workforce based on output means that you have budget certainty with your returns. During peak seasons or changes in eCommerce markets, this can become critical to not losing valuable time and money on returns processing.

Want to learn more about returns processing? Download our free returns quick guide.

About the Author

About Casey: Content marketing manager, frequently reading, aspiring chef, failed plant mom, connoisseur of tater tots, beauty products and airplane food.

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