Magazine Article | January 20, 2012

Returns Management Challenges And The Road Ahead

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

February 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers

By Kevin Permenter, research associate — supply chain, retail, and banking & Sahir Anand, VP and research director, Aberdeen Group

As retailers expand the channels in which they sell, a seamless return policy across these channels becomes paramount.

It is widely known within store operations and the retail supply chain that efficient returns management is key to achieving best in class performance. Still, the idea of returns management has changed over the past few years. With the expanding number of sales channels that are a reality for at least 60% of retailers (e.g. online, mobile, catalog), returns management has become far more complex than ever before. While the complexity has grown, the profile of returns management processes and technology alignment has risen dramatically due to the rise in multitier, multichannel, and multisite fulfillment and transportation, including third-party logistics. When combined, these pressures serve to elevate the importance of returns management beyond a simple expense line item on a balance sheet to an integral part of a company’s customer-facing and operational alignment strategy.