The title says it all. Making any one of these 10 common mistakes can have dire consequences for your bottom line.
1. Viewing returns as a cost centre
Most retailers and manufacturers in South Africa are still stuck in the mindset that returns are a drain on companies’ bottom lines and nothing else. But times have changed – or at least they have in America, Europe, Japan and the UK. Outsourcing returns to a reverse logistics specialist reduces costs, gives you a competitive advantage, and maximises profits. Returns can even be a profit centre.
2. An outdated returns policy
For the same reason you don’t go around sporting bellbottoms and an afro, your returns policy should be in keeping with modern trends. If your competitors have a returns promise then you should think about having one too. Don’t know how to follow through on this promise? Contact a reverse logistics specialist…
3. Unprofessional or inefficient returns clerks
As your mother always says, first impressions count. If Mr Smith is greeted by a disinterested, gum-chewing clerk who seems more interested in Cousin Sheena’s Facebook wedding album than Mr Smith’s faulty vacuum cleaner, then you’re immediately on the back foot.
4. Bad customer service at any point in the returns process
If you returns clerks make a good first impression, you’ve won half the battle. But you need to keep it up throughout the returns process. Whether this is achieved through SMS updates or weekly courtesy calls is your decision. At no point should you make it difficult for a customer to return a product.
5. Trying to manage the returns process in-house
When businesses want to save money, ‘going in-house’ is often suggested. In some departments this may be a good idea, but when it comes to the tricky business of returns it is never recommended. Allowing a dedicated and professional returns specialist to handle the back end of your supply chain is definitely cheaper in the long term and it improves customer service tenfold. Still don’t believe us? Contact Revlogs – we have stats to prove it.
6. Getting your forward logistics provider to deal with your returns
You wouldn’t go to the dentist when you have flu, so why would you even contemplate getting a company that specialises in sending neat palettes of gleaming merchandise to a fixed number of stores to deal with the mixed bag of damaged and unsold product that reverse logistics specialists take to OEMS, repair agents and waste disposal facilities on a daily basis? As in life, trying to go backwards and forwards at the same time is impossible.
7. Outsourcing transportation to small ‘bakkie brigrade’ couriers
You know what they say: you get what you pay for. While employing a mom-and-pop ‘bakkie brigade’ courier may seem cheaper at first, it will be more expensive in the long run. Lack of resources, tracking systems and staff mean that at some point you – and, more importantly, your customers – will be left in the lurch.
8. Using too many different repair agents
Keeping track of a myriad of in- and out-of-warranty repair agents for a whole host of different brands is a lot like taking a group of pre-school kids to the zoo: hair-raising and potentially disastrous! Simplify your life by using one or two professional repair agents who have service agreements with a wide range of brands. Some reverse logistics providers even have their own repairs and technical assessment divisions: Revlogs’ subsidiary Revteq being a case in point.
9. Inefficient returns management systems
As with all things in life there are two ways of managing returns: a right way and a wrong way. An inefficient returns management system can easily result in a customer taking a broken TV to a store and receiving a fixed hairdryer a few weeks later. No prizes for guessing who foots the bill for such mishaps… Not to mention what they do to your company’s reputation and bottom line.
10. Not maintaining an up-to-date returns database
If you don’t have a state-of-the-art digital database you’re prone to shrinkage and exploitation by OEMs and third party repair agents. Over the years we’ve noticed that one of the most valuable things we provide our clients with is information. Information about OEMs and information about stores; information about repair agents and information about individual staff members. If your returns database is a grubby exam pad in a dusty returns rooms you are seriously missing out.