Reducing Lead Times to Optimize your Returns Flow

By Julia Ebelthite

  • Do you have a returns backlog?
  • Overwhelmed by customer service requests?
  • Looking for support during peak times?

These are all issues that retailers commonly face with returns management. Finding solutions to these complaints can save your brand both time and money. That’s where ReBound can help! With years of experience in reverse logistics, we understand that reducing lead times is key to optimizing any returns flow.

Getting this right will bring a whole host of benefits, including lowering your total cost of ownership, freeing up time for other operations, increasing your customer experience and improving your brand image.

Optimizing the First Mile:

Optimizing the first mile is an essential step towards reducing your overall lead time. The quicker returns arrive back at a local distribution center, the better. For your customers, they will be able happy to receive their refunds faster. While for your business, costs can be saved as value recapturing services may begin quickly and the process of reselling can begin.  

Flexibility and smart solutions are key to implementing an efficient first mile in your returns process. ReBound can help you with both as we combine both IT and logistics to optimize returns, end-to-end. Within our existing transport, warehouse and carrier networks, we can facilitate flexible solutions on both a local and global scale. 

Offering your customer convenience is what will encourage them to shop with you again. We also know that this will encourage shoppers to return unwanted items sooner, helping speed up the lead time. Here, is where omni-channel should be embraced. Make it easy for customers by encouraging multiple ways for them to return with various postal carriers, in-store, via drop off locations, or through a pick-up service. This will ensure that your returns flow works for every customer’s budget and lifestyle.  

Tackling a Returns Backlog:

Witnessing a backlog of returns is a common issue, especially during peak times such as Christmas holidays and Black Friday sales. If these returns are not effectively registered and received, often they are left in warehouses to depreciate. Items are often in sellable condition, which could otherwise be re-routed to be resold. 

The longer returns are left to depreciate, the less value can be retrieved from these products. Causing a loss in profits from the original sale. Additionally, by failing to smartly redeploy returns, you may be missing sales opportunities and heightening the chance that the stock will end up as waste. This may also eventually harm sustainability efforts.

Optimizing warehouse activities not only reduces lead times, but also ensures that returns may be inspected, graded and then smartly routed to where their value is best maintained.

Handling Customer Service Requests:

Long waits for refunds or information about the status of a return can be frustrating for customers. To ensure that refunds can be issued as quickly as possible you need to offer clear communication channels with customer service. 

That’s where working with a returns management expert, such as ReBound, can help. Our online portals and communication channels, with track & trace and messaging features, encourage customers to reach out online first. Offering them access to the data on their returns makes it less likely they’ll seek direct contact through customer service. Reducing the workload for your teams, which are often costly to run.

As a returns partner, we can take care of customer service requests, leaving retailers with the extra time and money to invest in outbound operations. 

Coping with Peak Volumes:

Once you’ve secured shorter lead times it’s important to maintain these, even during peak season. Your customers will have grown to expect a certain turnaround time, and delays may harm their image of your brand. 

This is where the existing network and experience of a returns partner comes into play. Making sure that all the above features can perform just as well during busy periods. 

ReBound has experienced these challenges before and has the knowledge of how to overcome higher returns volumes and an increased demand on the logistics network. 

If you’ve got questions about how best to handle your consumer returns, are facing a returns backlog and want to reduce your lead times, ReBound is here to help! Get in touch with us to discover our smart solutions that help brands build a custom and future-proof returns flow.

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