Back in 2019, bracketing – otherwise known as the act of buying multiple similar products with the intent of returning them – was estimated to cost businesses up to $550 billion by 2020 as more online retailers move to offer free shipping. Now, while businesses continue to accommodate the surge in online shopping, that estimate can be expected to rise as home shoppers are unable to shop directly in store.
Moreover, research suggests that four out of ten customers return products bought online. Because returned transactions can cost businesses up to 12$ per parcel, it is highly crucial that supply chains learn to maximize profitability at the face of increasing return rates. Expenditures are further increased when the following responses are taken into account:
- Products may be stored in the wrong place and lost
- Products may no longer be usable, ultimately ending up in landfills
- Workforce must spend extra time inspecting and refurbishing returned goods
- Customers will most likely turn elsewhere to find the product their seeking.
To minimize financial loss and chaos, Avalon Integration recommends revising your inventory management plan to provide your reverse logistics team with maximum visibility from door to dock.
Visibility is King
Between social distancing limitations and holiday surges, it’s safe to say reverse logistics will not disappear anytime soon. Protecting your workflow from sudden influxes, a transparent inventory management system allows your workforce to accurately track and move products and resources to where they are needed more. A few technologies currently increasing inventory visibility are:
- RFID Locationing – Tracking moving inventory in real-time, RFID locationing allows you to verify incoming orders, accelerating your sorting and refurbishing process.
- Bluetooth Locationing – Serving as a more cost-effective solution compared to RFID technologies, BLE can help define storage zones within your warehouse, ensuring returned goods aren’t lost or misplaced on the wrong shelf. As a result, this also reduces the number of products disposed in landfills.
- Color labels – Stringently tested to endure harsh environments, Zebra’s Certified Consumables can maximize visibility by adding color into your labeling system. This allows workers to quickly identify products at a glance and minimize unnecessary labor efforts.
- Versatile data capture technology – Paired with either RFID tags or enterprise-grade labels, visibility technologies such as Zebra Rugged Tablets, give you access to your inventory’s status at the palm of your hand while also streamlining other functionalities through one ergonomic and durable device.
When done with the right tools and expertise, maximizing inventory visibility can be both seamless and profitable. To see how these technologies can fit into your workflow, contact our automation experts for a free assessment of your current reverse logistics strategy.