When many people hear the word “automation,” they immediately imagine a future where robots are taking over all the good jobs. While the near future of reverse logistics may include a few robots and a little rearrangement in the hierarchy in the supply chain, there are certainly more benefits than drawbacks to automating your returns process.

Add Ease and Speed to Reverse Logistics

There are two things that automation offers to absolutely everyone: ease and speed. Things start to do themselves, you don’t argue. It’s a great relationship. But how does this play out on the returns management floor?

Here are three ways to speed up things in the world of reverse logistics:

Faster processing means faster credits. Your customers judge you harder on how well returns go than how easy it is to buy the things they ended up returning, don’t ever forget it. When you can process their returns fast, with or without the use of a smart label, and get them a credit they can use to buy something else at your store, you’re going to get the thumbs up. Unhappy customers who think they’re waiting too long for a credit, on the other hand, can damage your reputation in no time.

Reducing your overall returns rate. Automation can also include data collection, which you can use to improve your practices and reduce returns. For example, you may find that a particular shirt is being sent back a lot, by all kinds of shoppers. When you ask them what’s happening, they say it’s the wrong color. As the data collects, you see that “wrong color” is the leading reason for returns to your shop. Clearly you need to improve the images and descriptions of items, allowing you to save time and money dealing with the products coming back.

Consistency in sorting. One of the main jobs a reverse logistics team performs is grading returns. Some will go back to the sales floor or warehouse, others will be discounted and sold as clearance or “open box,” the rest may need to have a little more effort put into them to be resold. No matter which your reverse logistics team chooses, it’s important that the standards are consistent. By using grading software that makes it simple to identify the condition of the item, your reverse logistics team will get it right more often than not, salvaging products that might have otherwise been discounted for no reason.

Automating your returns process can pay off big in many ways. You’ll literally see more money because of a reduction in returns and by preventing some products that can be easily resold from being sorted into discount bins. You’ll also make more money from customers who are super happy with their experience and come back again and again. Both are great reasons to automate!