They sneak up on us every year, don’t they? The holidays are back again: the time of year where we get together with our families, eat huge meals, exchange gifts, and reflect on some of the great times we’ve had over the past year. Of course, in distribution, the holidays also mean that warehouses get heavily stocked to prepare for the holiday shopping seasons, and beef up numbers in the warehouse to make sure all of the items are going out exactly where they need to go. And while it’s great to reflect back on the previous year during the holidays, it’s also a time to look forward, and for many retailers, prepare for returns.
It makes sense to add to your warehouse staff during the holidays to help with the increased demand, but it’s a good idea to keep a few extra people around just past the holidays, too. Returns are just an unfortunate byproduct of retail, and it still pays to be prepared for them. Increasing your staff with members who are specifically designated to work on returns as they come in can streamline the process. If you don’t handle your own reverse logistics, fulfillment and warehousing partners can provide this service, and in some cases, can do both distribution and reverse logistics, further streamlining the process.
Industries are trying to predict what the hot items will be this year, but no one thing is really standing out. Instead, it’s generally thought that most gifts this year will be technology of some kind, like tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets, especially those in the millennial age bracket. While clothing retailers certainly aren’t going to be exempt from returns this year, retailers who sell technology can expect more returns simply because their sales numbers will be higher than usual.
For some retailers, especially during the holidays, it’s easier said than done, but by screening items as they come into the warehouse, you can potentially avoid a significant number of returns. Many items are returned because they’re defective in some way, particularly electronics. If items are immediately screened for defects and stocked as they come into the warehouse, anything that might cause an item to get sent back can be caught early. If a defective item is never sent out in the first place, it can’t be returned.