In today’s high-return online retail world, the question isn’t if, but when, you’ll have to choose a returns management solution.

For some businesses, this will take the form of an in-house team that uses various tools to move your returns back to the warehouse quickly, for others it could be a returns management solution provided by a 3rd party logistics company. Either way, you want to be sure you’ve got the best team around.

4 Totally Necessary Elements of a Returns Management Solution

There can be a lot of overwhelming information out there to sort through when you’re trying to figure out what makes the best reverse logistics solutions. Do you want one that’s fast or accurate? Is it better to choose a company with a fancy-sounding name or one that has an established track record?

Here are other characteristics of reverse logistics companies that can help you sort it out:

Automation throughout the process. Returns are funny things. Because each is completely unique, it requires a great deal of human time to sort, grade and dispose of returns. But, if you automate as much as is possible, it can help to speed up the process. Even if a clothing-sorting robot isn’t in the budget, you could outfit your team (or choose a team) with software that makes grading much more clean-cut.

Reporting on everything. Reverse logistics companies are constantly collecting data on every aspect of their processes. Using tools like bar code scanners, smartphone apps and proprietary equipment, they know what’s needing to be sorted, what’s coming tomorrow and how quickly they can turn a customer refund around. It’s really pretty impressive, plus it’s data you can use to help minimize future returns.

Solutions for products that can’t be resold via retail. Not everything that comes back will be fit for retail sale. Instead, a shirt may be torn, a computer DOA. You can’t afford to just toss these things in a corner and never think about them again. Instead, your returns management team should be working to find a buyer, whether that’s on a secondary market or as scrap.

Strong customer service support. Never forget your customers. In the hardest times, like when they need to make a return or exchange, your company’s character is going to be tested. How you handle that problem says a lot about how you’ll handle future problems, and that customer with a return will definitely tell their friends if it doesn’t go so well. Fast, easy returns are the name of the game.

Choosing a returns management solution is never easy, but if you look for these four characteristics, you’re going to have a very short list of highly qualified choices. Even if you keep your returns operations in-house, these elements will make your team one to be envied.