Shopping online has been embraced in a big way. Actually, “big” might be considered an understatement. Yet with all of those parcels arriving in the mailbox or on the doorstep of consumers, there are bound to be some returns. With the e-commerce returns data just as staggering as the explosion of online shopping’s popularity, many online retailers are discovering their returns management process isn’t operationally efficient or effective.
Reverse logistics isn’t just a cost of doing business. It’s a significant cost that can have an enormous impact on the bottom line. Through implementation of new affordable, flexible automated storage and retrieval systems, the reverse logistics process can be simplified. Returns can be handled as another form of inbound shipping through efficient routing and restocking of items to minimize inventory costs, labor requirements and space demands.
The first handling step of receiving and processing returns is decidedly manual. To move returned items through the disposition process quickly, utilizing a Kardex Remstar automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) can speed up the processing time to maximize asset value recovery in a compressed footprint while reducing cycle times and labor-associated handling costs. The most flexible solutions available are horizontal carousels, vertical carousels and vertical lift modules. These self-contained systems offer higher density storage in a more compact footprint than manual storage equipment can provide.
The selection of the most appropriate AS/RS for a given reverse logistics operation is dependent on a variety of factors, including number of returns received per day, the size variability of the returned items and the desired rate of throughput for returns. When paired with barcode scanners, light-directed picking workstations and/or put walls, items routed to the automated returns processing area post-inspection can be quickly identified. Because the automated systems deliver the destined receptacle directly to the worker and highlight its position, both walk and search time are eliminated, enabling fewer personnel to sort and route more returns.
By applying flexible and affordable automated storage and retrieval systems with integrated inventory management software to a reverse logistics function within a warehouse or distribution center, e-commerce retailers will benefit from: a significant reduction in inventory costs, returns handling time, the amount of labor required to process returns and the amount of space designated to house returned items as well as fast and simple sortation of items, faster crediting of customers and quicker return to inventory for resale.
Kardex Remstar, LLC, a company of the Kardex Group is a provider of automated storage and retrieval systems for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, offices and institutions.