Winter is Coming: Optimizing Your Warehouse for Returns

Optimizing your warehouse for returns. A person carrying a package with red action lines coming off the top.

The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic mean that more people are taking advantage of eCommerce than ever before to avoid hitting the stores. Unfortunately, a rise in online shopping tends to result in a corresponding jump in returns. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail, the average online returns rate last year was 20.8 percent – that represents a 2 percent increase over the previous year. 

While returns are a fact of life in the eCommerce world, having the right returns management system can make a significant difference when it comes to your company’s reputation and profitability. Not only can an inefficient returns process in your warehouse damage customer relations, but it can also result in extra work for your staff and affect your bottom line. As winter and the holiday season approach, discover how ShipHero can help optimize your warehouse for returns. 

What Is a Warehouse Return Process?

Returns management is a crucial part of any warehouse system. Whereas traditional logistics refers to the process of delivering products to your clients, reverse logistics involves transporting goods from clients back to their point of origin. At this point, previously purchased inventory can be resold, refurbished, or in some cases trashed or recycled. Not only does optimizing the returns process in your warehouse allow you to retain value, but it also provides valuable insight into which items are being sent back regularly and why. 

How Do You Optimize Warehouse Operations?

Whether you handle returns management internally or outsource this job to a third party, optimizing warehouse operations is crucial to maintaining your customer base and your bottom line. Here are some tips for improving your system before the holiday season.

Identify Why Customers Are Returning Your Products

When assessing the returns process in your warehouse, one of the first steps is quantifying why goods are coming back to you. Businesses can cut costs by addressing some of the main issues, such as product quality, shipping damages, sizing confusion, and items not arriving as pictured online. Correcting some of these problems can save your company money while also improving your reputation with customers. 

Consider Automating Your Warehouse

Of course, not all returns are controllable. However, automating warehouse processes can go a long way toward cutting costs while also improving efficiency. By utilizing new technologies like automated order picking and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), companies can streamline putaway processes and restock popular items faster. As a bonus, these systems help improve accuracy and cut down on in-aisle traffic while freeing team members up to focus on tasks requiring a human touch. 

Look at Your Logistics

Busy modern companies may struggle to handle all their logistics in house. If returns are overwhelming your business, it may be time to consider using a warehouse management system like the one available through ShipHero. Along with providing insight into which products are being returned and why, the software allows for easy integration with eCommerce platforms and vendors. As a bonus, businesses enjoy access to the most up-to-the-minute shipping rates from major carriers, so they don’t pay more getting returns out the door. 

When it comes to returns management, today’s businesses have a lot on their plates. The fact is that every returned good has an impact on your bottom line. Over time, businesses that don’t find ways to optimize warehouse returns through technology and automation may find themselves raising prices to combat the lost income. By reducing unnecessary returns and repackaging items for resale as quickly as possible, companies can keep profits high while ensuring their online reputation stays positive. 

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