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Fixing the problem of online returns

Warehouse Processes

WRITTEN BY Paul Mullin /

20 January 2017

With the Christmas period over your warehouse should now be getting back to some sense of normality. If you found the season a struggle with returns, or maybe you’re still working through the backlog now? If so, read on.

The average returned purchase in the UK passes through seven pairs of hands before it is eventually listed for resale. That’s a lot of man hours and time that’s eating into your business just from returns.

On a daily basis, in warehouses across the country there are thousands of packages coming in for return where they need to be cleaned, repackaged and made suitable for new owners.  

This problem is only made worse during peak periods where there are more and more returns, plus by the time many products make it back to the warehouse they are out of season and can only be sold at a discount, affecting your bottom line even further!

As online shopping continues to grow in popularity this is having an effect on the supply chain. As companies do better online, they must ensure they have robust processes in place to deal with stock levels, distribution and delivery options.

According to the British Retail Consortium, online spending on non-food products rose 15.1% in December in the UK, compared with 7% the previous year. It went onto say that almost £1 in every £5 spent in December was done so online.

Although that may seem good news for those selling goods online, further research by Clear Returns found that £600m worth of products that were purchased over Cyber Week in the UK was on course to be returned by the middle of December.  This would indicate that as online purchases increase, so does the cost of returns.

Why so many returns?    

There are a few reasons why there are more and more items being returned especially with a online purchases. Some online shoppers ‘hedge spend’; that is when they buy items at full price, safe in the knowledge that they can return them if they are discounted later and within the returns period.

Some consumers will also order multiple items of a similar shape, size or colour, this is known as an intentional return, as customers over order the same item safe in the knowledge that most returns tend to be free or cheap.

Keep an eye out

As online becomes more dominant in consumer life, this is going to have a knock on effect for the warehouse. Goods purchased during peak periods are more likely to be returned than those at other times and it’s important that you don’t get caught out in these busy times.

We are creating a free to use Android app that will help provide a fast, accessible, solution for your returns. Keep an eye out as we will release the app soon, and let you know exactly how it can transform your returns especially during busy periods.

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