With a rise in ecommerce sales scheduled during this year’s holiday shopping rush, you need to prepare for returns and reverse distribution as much as you prepare for filling orders. A key to this is preparing your retailers. Making space for restocking, preparing your staff, and communicating with your customers about the potential to return ecommerce items to brick and mortar stores is crucial. Here’s how to approach each.
Your retailers are used to operating within their physical confines of space. But when you allow ecommerce orders to be returned at brick-and-mortar locations, you risk overstocking a small store before product can be shipped back to a distribution hub. The trouble occurs when you fill stocking space to prepare for an influx in orders. Keep in mind that you need to make space for those ecommerce returns. This can be a balancing act, but it’s one you need to do. Leave open locations for product coming back.
Prepare your staff
Remember these two items: you need more staff than usual during the return-order influx; and you need them to be trained to be able to handle ecommerce returns. That puts pressure on a large amount of staff to be comfortable with cycle-counting and redistribution. Take the time now to train extra employees on system operations. This, in general, is a good opportunity to get more staff trained on operations they can utilize during the rest of the year. The goal is to do all of this before you see a rise in orders, when all of your employees—including your trainers—are busy trying to keep customers happy.
Communicate to customers
Customers have to know that they’re able to return ecommerce orders at brick-and-mortar locations. You can do this online during the purchasing process, but you can also get your retail stores involved beforehand, using signs and word-of-mouth to communicate to customers that they can order online and return at the store. That’s all the more reason to keep shipping receipts and purchasing receipts on your files and available to customers for printing. Customers who know the return process will be quick and easy are much more likely to both purchase initially as well as purchase from you in the future.