21. November 2022

For a more efficient returns management: How to optimize your reverse logistics

Online shopping is booming – according to a Statista study, the total number of online shoppers is expected to grow to more than 68 million people in Germany alone by 2025. 29 percent of respondents said they order something from online stores at least once a week. The growing number of orders entails an equal rise in returns. Reverse logistics is becoming one of the most important intralogistics processes: How can you ensure to resell returned goods as fast as possible?

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Many customers shop online to try on clothes or shoes in the comfort of their own homes before deciding what to buy. They can order as many sizes and colors as they like – and return whatever they don’t want to keep. Only very few are aware of this means for the logistics involved.

High workload in reverse logistics

What exactly happens to the returned goods? After returning to the warehouse, an employee is supposed to inspect the item. Depending on its condition, they recondition the product, repackage it and put it back on stock. In reality, countless companies dispose of the returned items rather than reselling them for cost reasons: A return causes far more than just shipping costs. The inspection and assessment lead to high costs especially for personnel. It is often cheaper to sell new goods instead of reprocessing returned items and offering them again. But pressure on retailers and manufacturers increases: in the future, companies cannot afford to discard returned goods. The image loss with regards to sustainability (which is becoming increasingly important to both consumers and legislators) would be too severe. Returns must be handled as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to get goods back on the market. The first thought goes to automation, but handling a return requires sound judgment and individual decisions to assess the condition of the merchandise which only a human can provide in the foreseeable future.

People remain irreplaceable in the warehouse

In contrast to costly automation solutions, which only achieve the desired return on investment after long-term use, humans have irreplaceable qualities. These include unique cognitive abilities, fine motor skills and flexibility, which are elementary for handling a return. The challenge that businesses must face, consequently, is to lighten the load on the important human resource – especially in view of the growing shortage of qualified personnel. The logical conclusion is to find an assistance system that reduces the workload of warehouse workers both cognitively and physically.

Assistance systems help employees

You can increase efficiency by processing your returns with pick-by-vision, helping to increase speed and reduce error. Thanks to smart glasses, the warehouse workforce can work hands-free, speeding up the process of unpacking and inspecting goods. Using the voice input of the pick-by-vision solution, they can enter descriptions or make assessments of the returned goods in a matter of seconds. The integrated camera records the visual of the return. Workers are guided through the various steps via the display on the smart glasses which reduces errors to a minimum. Users achieve time savings of up to 40% in reverse logistics using pick-by-vision. In addition to the user-friendly user interface, Pick-by-Vision impresses users with its high ergonomics and exceptional comfort.

Picavi is leading in pick-by-vision using smart glasses.

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