Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from one of the fans who entered our giveaway contest for a copy of the board game Gloomhaven. Today we will answer the following question: “how do you process returns?”
What Happens When Items Go Backward in the Supply Chain?
Businesses spend an enormous amount of time and money thinking about how to get their products into customers’ hands. This, of course, makes logical sense. What’s more complicated, however, is getting products back.
Why would you need to do that? As it turns out, there are a number of reasons why items would need to go backward in the supply chain. Consider what happens when an item is returned, recalled, refurbished, repaired, or sent back to the manufacturer under warranty. All of these scenarios fall under the umbrella term of reverse logistics.
How Fulfillrite Processes Returns
To give you a sense of how returns work in general, we’ll now tell you how we process returns at Fulfillrite. Most companies like ours have very similar processes in place.
First, either the seller or one of their customers creates a return merchandise authorization (RMA). This lets us know that a return is coming and gives the seller’s customer the return label they need to send the items back to our warehouse.
For each RMA, the seller may choose what we do with the inventory. There are three basic options. We can put the return back into inventory, we can discard the item, or we can set the item aside and send it back to the seller’s billing address.
When the item arrives returned in our warehouse, we confirm that the quantities we receive match what the RMA tells us. If there is a mismatch, we correct the problem.
We check the contents in the package, inspecting for visible damage to the outermost packaging. If the packaging is unsealed, we verify the inner contents of unsealed boxes or units. We do not inspect for inner damage or other signs of use.
That’s it! It’s really that simple, just as you would hope a common business process would be.
Thinking through the returns process makes it much easier to build a business that scales. By giving you a peek into our own processes, we hope to give you the context you need to succeed 🙂