While order management and fulfillment are complicated, reverse logistics can be even more challenging to navigate during the post-peak season. Returns have to be received and processed from thousands of customers looking for refunds and exchanges. And the returned inventory must be sorted, logged, and transported quickly to maximize cost-efficiency.
This can be difficult to do after a busy holiday season. Below, we’ve got a few suggestions to help you make it through the final stretch of peak season.
Provide the Shipping Labels
The last thing you need during the post-holiday chaos is variable shipping times and incorrect return labels. Both can bog down reverse logistics dramatically.
But, if you don’t standardize the labels on every returned package, you can wind up spending an unnecessary amount of time sorting through products, manually logging them back into the system, and notifying customers that their return was received.
Ideally, the best option is to provide customers with free return labels that they can slap on a box and hand-off to a carrier. The reason? It ensures your fulfillment specialists will have all the information they need to quickly scan the product back into your inventory (or damage it out). At the same time, it minimizes the cost to you, as you can preselect the box size, carriers, and shipping priority for the package.
Leverage Robotics Technology
When you have a lot of orders coming back, you need to work as efficiently as possible to get everything processed. However, since human stamina is finite -- especially after the peak season rush -- keeping up with the influx can be challenging without additional seasonal hires or advanced technology.
Given that robotics technology is faster and more precise than most human employees, leaning into robotics technology can provide your fulfillment team with a long-term solution to the annual peak season returns. Drones can count and locate products across the fulfillment center. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can quickly sort products for faster processing, and automated guided robots (AGRs) can move large pallets and bins across the distribution center safely.
Since robots can run around the clock (with the exception of charging time), this means your reverse logistics process can continue to operate smoothly -- no matter what time it is.
Work with an Omnichannel Provider
Even though your team may be equipped to handle customer returns during normal times of the year, it can be beneficial to partner with an omnichannel provider like Radial during the peak season.
With a strong infrastructure, large teams, and a dedicated customer care solution, Radial makes it possible to manage all of your returns quickly and accurately -- no matter what channel they were purchased from or where they were shipped. And since all the work is managed in Radial’s fulfillment or customer centers, your team doesn’t have to worry about the extra load at all.
Balancing customer orders with a surge in product returns can be hard on any fulfillment team. But by providing your own shipping labels to streamline order processing, using an omnichannel OMS to restock and damage out inventory, leveraging robotics technology to handle the movement of physical inventory, and partnering with an omnichannel provider to take the pressure off your team, you can successfully make it through the third phase of peak season.