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Back in 2019, bracketing – otherwise known as the act of buying multiple similar products with the intent of returning them – was estimated to cost businesses up to $550 billion by 2020 as more online retailers move to offer free shipping. Now, while businesses continue to accommodate the surge in online shopping, that estimate can be expected to rise as home shoppers are unable to shop directly in store. 

Moreover, research suggests that four out of ten customers return products bought online. Because returned transactions can cost businesses up to 12$ per parcel, it is highly crucial that supply chains learn to maximize profitability at the face of increasing return rates. Expenditures are further increased when the following responses are taken into account:

  • Products may be stored in the wrong place and lost
  • Products may no longer be usable, ultimately ending up in landfills 
  • Workforce must spend extra time inspecting and refurbishing returned goods 
  • Customers will most likely turn elsewhere to find the product their seeking.

To minimize financial loss and chaos, Avalon Integration recommends revising your inventory management plan to provide your reverse logistics team with maximum visibility from door to dock.

Visibility is King

Warehouse worker in red shirt scanning barcodes

Protect your workflow from sudden influxes with a transparent inventory management system.

Between social distancing limitations and holiday surges, it’s safe to say reverse logistics will not disappear anytime soon. Protecting your workflow from sudden influxes, a transparent inventory management system allows your workforce to accurately track and move products and resources to where they are needed more. A few technologies currently increasing inventory visibility are:

  • RFID Locationing – Tracking moving inventory in real-time, RFID locationing allows you to verify incoming orders, accelerating your sorting and refurbishing process. 
  • Bluetooth Locationing – Serving as a more cost-effective solution compared to RFID technologies, BLE can help define storage zones within your warehouse, ensuring returned goods aren’t lost or misplaced on the wrong shelf. As a result, this also reduces the number of products disposed in landfills. 
  • Color labels – Stringently tested to endure harsh environments, Zebra’s Certified Consumables can maximize visibility by adding color into your labeling system. This allows workers to quickly identify products at a glance and minimize unnecessary labor efforts. 
  • Versatile data capture technology – Paired with either RFID tags or enterprise-grade labels, visibility technologies such as Zebra Rugged Tablets, give you access to your inventory’s status at the palm of your hand while also streamlining other functionalities through one ergonomic and durable device.

When done with the right tools and expertise, maximizing inventory visibility can be both seamless and profitable. To see how these technologies can fit into your workflow, contact our automation experts for a free assessment of your current reverse logistics strategy.

Many businesses put more emphasis on streamlining outbound shipments than returns because they view the movement of outgoing orders as a revenue stream. The returning shipments are seen as a cost. As a result, a sluggish process for reverse logistics is a profitability drain on the company, when, in fact, it could be used as an opportunity to strengthen the bottom line. Reverse logistics account for approximately 7 to 10% of the cost of goods, so addressing inefficiencies here can deliver a strong boost to your bottom line!

How Can You De-Clutter the Process of Reverse Logistics?

Reverse Logistics - Declog the Warehouse

Are reverse logistics clogging up your supply chain? If so, it’s time to take a look at how you can de-clutter the processes. Avalon Integration works extensively with manufacturers and warehouses, and we see some common factors that need attention.

Outbound shipments have a high priority since they reflect sales and have deadlines. 

Reverse Logistics - High Priority Customers Means Good Productivity

Customers are expecting their shipments and don’t tolerate delays. Returns are handled with less priority. However, there’s still a customer on the other end of this inbound shipment—and it could be an unhappy customer—so efficient and accurate processing of the return leads to increased customer satisfaction. There should be a dedicated team of workers who work solely on reverse logistics, not delegating your shipping staff to this job when they are available. Equip them with mobile technology to expedite the job and increase accuracy. A rugged handheld computer enables a worker to scan the barcode on the shipment to record the order number and customer. Then, the returned items are scanned, instantly updating the customer’s account because the device is linked to the enterprise’s backend system. In addition, the inventory count is updated with the numbers from the returned merchandise.

Good Equipment Means Productive Workers With Reverse Logistics

Reverse Logistics - Productive Workers

An enterprise-grade mobile computer gives your warehouse workers the ability to also record the condition of the goods when they’re returned. Mark them to be restocked, refurbished, or discontinued. The device is equipped with a camera, so any damage can be recorded when the box is opened. You can focus intently on getting their orders to them quickly, but if your reverse logistics delays the processing of their returns, you compromise that positive relationship. This real-time visibility certainly increases customer satisfaction on both ends of their orders. The dedicated, advanced reverse logistics system reduces waste and delays. Your inventory counts become accurate and up-to-date, preventing mistakes in re-ordering that lead to overstocks. When you immediately record returned merchandise, you avoid unnecessary replenishment.

Avalon Integration develops technology solutions to support an efficient reverse logistics process. Our partnership with Zebra gives us the power to provide the devices that reflect the latest advances, like best-in-class scanning, enterprise-class device management and security, and rapid processing and connectivity. Talk to us to learn more about improving your reverse logistics.