Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn I recommend visiting to read:%0A%0A {0} %0A%0A {1}

Mitigating the Flood of Post-Holiday Returns

The return process can be challenging, and often requires customized, manual, and labor-intensive handling and sorting practices.

Mitigating the Flood of Post Holiday Returns Banner 

If returns can be added back to salable inventory, it can still entail costly transportation to stores or fulfillment centers. Speed is critical in processing returns given seasonal products and other short shelf life SKUs quickly becoming obsolete. And issuing refunds early in the process can make or break the customer experience.

For the seller, some items don’t make economic sense to return, like bulk items or furniture. Some items can’t be resold or are too inconvenient to recoup costs, forcing businesses to consider packaging returns in bulk for resale, reimbursing customers without accepting the returned item, or in worst case scenarios, sending products to landfills.

The good news? Innovative supply-side strategies can be used in developing solutions for a frictionless returns process. It’s the final experience a customer will have in the retail process, and it’s critical.

Here’s what to consider when optimizing your returns process:

  • Proximity to customers. Success increasingly depends on utilizing an optimized distribution network with multiple distribution centers, warehouses, or fulfillment locations in populous urban areas. Though rents for logistics space have continued to climb in the last year, many find the cost worthwhile after considering all operating costs.
  • Labor is one of the most costly and competitive elements in a supply chain. Since returns are unique and unpredictable, a high volume of labor with specialized training is required, and companies must ensure facilities have an adequate labor supply.
  • Return channels. Evaluate your existing resources and plan accordingly. Some items may be best suited for a sorting facility, while others should be handled at a large distribution center or manufacturer. Some companies use third parties to efficiently process specialty returns such as electronics, even by leading retailers. Repackaging returns and reducing waste will also become a larger issue; one option is to process returns off site from core business operations, but in close proximity to existing facilities.
  • Buy online, return in store. For businesses with an extensive retail footprint, streamlining in-store returns can be an efficient option that reduces transportation costs and draws in new and old customers. Some retailers, including Nordstrom, are beginning to accept returns from rivals like Macy’s and Kohl’s to reduce costs and increase convenience.
  • Space sharing. Many businesses seek partnerships with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to expand their physical footprint. This year, UPS added 12,000 pickup locations in well-known brick-and-mortar retailers for a total of 21,000 pickup points across the United States.

A clear and efficient return process can differentiate businesses from competitors and reduce supply chain costs. While the businesses that planned ahead this year will likely end up on top, every business can learn from their post-holiday season and better optimize reverse logistics ahead of 2021.

This article was written for Inbound Logistics

Related Insights

Card Image --Ocala-Scorecard
Article • Industrial

Ocala Industrial Scorecard Q4 2021

The next logistics frontier - Ocala, Florida

Chris Owen • 1/24/2022
Industrial Warehouse Internal Inventory Racks
Article • Industrial

Dallas Industrial Five Fast Facts Q4 2021

The DFW industrial market closes out another banner year in Q4 2021.
Christopher Grubbs • 1/11/2022
Article • Retail

U.S. Holiday Sales Boost Confidence for 2022

Early results on the holiday shopping season suggest consumers proved to be resilient and flexible just as they have been throughout the pandemic recovery, jolting holiday sales to a banner year in 2021
James Bohnaker • 1/7/2022

Ready to talk?

Our professionals are ready to provide further details on this and many other topics.

Cushman & Wakefield uses cookies to analyze traffic and offer our customers the best experience on this website. Close this dialog to confirm your consent, or visit this page to learn more:
Cookie Notice

Agree and Close
These cookies ensure that our website performs as expected,for example website traffic load is balanced across our servers to prevent our website from crashing during particularly high usage.
These cookies allow our website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you are in) and provide enhanced features. These cookies do not gather any information about you that could be used for advertising or remember where you have been on the internet.
These cookies allow us to work with our marketing partners to understand which ads or links you have clicked on before arriving on our website or to help us make our advertising more relevant to you.