Returns Management for 2018’s Holiday Surge: 4 Much-Needed Solutions

Holiday retail predictions this year all center around one thing – growth of online sales, with mobile shopping expected to dominate. That’s great for the top line, but it comes at the price of an increasingly complex returns management issue that can cost retailers heavily. In its annual holiday shopping predictions, PracticalEcommerce notes the following:

  • 8% growth over 2017 holiday sales
  • Black Friday, Cyber Monday will be 37% of the total holiday sales, with Cyber Monday/Week making up more than half of that total.
  • Mobile sales will represent FIFTY-TWO PERCENT of the total sales.
  • Voice shopping will grow to 3% of total sales.

With potential for over $100 billion in returns to manage this holiday season, retailers need a clear management approach for the influx of returns that will come back through multiple channels including in-store returns and via mail back to the distribution center. Smart retailers and manufacturers should keep the following three things in mind for improving their returns management program:

  1. A centralized process will increase revenue potential: while a localized returns management programs may seem like a good approach, it limits revenue opportunities and carries hidden costs such as unnecessary transportation costs, lack of transparency in sales channels, and brand protection challenges. The best strategy is to centralize the process, perhaps with a third-party strategic partner or software provider that has a full suite of value-added services and access to multiple disposition channels including return-to-vendor (RTV), return-to-stock, re-commerce, charity donation and recycling options.
  2. A streamlined and efficient process will support generous and transparent consumer return policies: Liberal and easy to follow returns policies are key to driving consumer loyalty but they also drive huge volumes of returns, especially during the holidays. Look for a partner that can provide state-of-the-art technology to track products from receipt through final disposition while also providing rule-based processes for how to deal with each returned item to get the highest recovery value in the most efficient manner.
  3. A seamless returns process builds customer trust and loyalty: Whether your returned goods end up with new owners or back with the original vendor, they must be transported there. The fulfillment and redistribution of returned goods is a crucial part of the returns management process. Efficiency, speed and coordination in this area are vital to ensuring your program operates effectively and profitably. A robust transportation and processing center network is key and should leverage a blended transportation model including parcel, LTL and full truckload options. A solid partner can fight the right solution that balances speed with the cycle time and cost of transport. Overall, shorter transit times mean faster credits for retails and consumers.

Liquidity Services solves the returns management needs of retailers and manufacturers in a number of ways:

  1. Returns Management – let us do all the work! We optimize returns management for half of the top 50 retailers and the leading e-tailers with a full range of customizable services. We provide value-added services such as receipt, processing, and reconciliation; refurbishment; RTV and RMA; data wiping, brand protection, recommerce, recycling, fulfillment, and full program reporting.
  2. RPM SaaS – leverage all of the benefits of our returns management solution in your own warehouse through our cloud-based software, Returns Process Management (RPM)
  3. Self-Service – perfect for small and medium sized sellers that don’t need a full-service solution but still want access to the power of our online auction marketplace and marketing.
  4. ScanN$ell – use our app to sell your items on major online marketplaces from your own warehouse.