When product arrives at a distribution center, this is the first part of a long line of checking to ensure that the product a customer sees on the shelves is in its best condition. This means checking the quality of the product when it arrives at a 3PL, re-checking the product when it’s picked, and checking the product a third time when it is returned to store for any reason.
You might be responsible for damaged product if…
When product arrives at a distribution center and is already damaged or dirty, you might be responsible later in the process if you don’t catch these problems when the product is received. This requires diligence from your employees, inspecting every pallet and part that arrives. When you catch product that’s already damaged, it’s your responsibility to notify the manufacturer and retailer.
Once good product hits the shelves, it’s now your responsibility to make sure that product maintains its good condition for the length of its shelf-life in the hub. This isn’t limited to damage alone; dirty product that collects dust or grime in storage locations might not be able to be sold later, or a customer won’t want to buy it, and you’ll be responsible for this product when it is returned to your hub. That’s why a clean warehouse is so important, why you need to notify pickers about keeping product clean.
What can a 3PL do when product gets returned to the hub?
A good 3PL can save themselves shipping costs and return costs if they can receive returned product, repair or repackage the item in question, and get it back to the retailer. Two things happens when this happens: the retailer gets product back quicker—reducing the chances that a customer will miss the product they want—and the 3PL and manufacturer don’t have to waste time and money returning mis-packaged product.
Train your employees to be the eyes and ears of quality control.
At every stage of the process—receiving, picking, getting returns—your employees are going to be your eyes and ears for quality control. They can catch a wrongly packaged item when its received, they can keep the product clean and undamaged by maintaining the warehouse, and they can catch simple, easy repairs and repackaging when an item is returned. Focus on their training to reduce the amount of returns you’ll have to process during a product’s lifecycle.