The challenge of returns in wholesale

Returns, demanding customers and margins

The challenge around returns is related to the other trends we see at wholesale companies. Customers place high demands on the return process, and if you don't have it in order, margins are put under further pressure. Moreover, B2B customers are increasingly behaving like B2C customers who return small orders effortlessly. 

Returns as a service item 

The way you handle returns can make or break perceived service. Is the process not going well? Then you will get questions and it will cost money. If you handle it properly, you meet customer expectations. So handling (unplanned) returns, exchanging products that are broken and cash backs are components to think through carefully.

Returns as a margin-killer or margin-maker

All wholesale companies are looking for ways to make healthy margins. A tight returns process is crucial for this, especially if the return flow has value. How do you handle damaged items that can still be sold and how do you determine scrapping value? Which items will be refurbished and which can or cannot be returned to stock? The logistical process and financial settlement are a major challenge in which manpower and automation come together.   

The solution for returns 

The Fiori app from SAP EWM

Wholesale companies can streamline their entire return process with SAP EWM. Included in this is the relatively new Fiori application that lets you process both planned and unplanned (not announced by the customer) returns. The app guides you through the entire returns process in an intuitive, simple way with visual tools such as product images and smart use of color. 

Getting a grip on unplanned returns

SAP EWM supports different process variants for returns. Orders that customers report returns in advance are recognized by the Fiori app by scanning the return number. A major improvement is that unplanned returns are also easy to process. EWM creates a return number in the background via the ERP system and processes the return immediately. 

Record quality checks and follow-up steps warehouse 

Checking the quality of the return item is crucial for margins. Can you sell it again as new, or does it need to be scrapped? With SAP EWM, you integrate the return process with the quality inspection and record the results. The different outcomes trigger subsequent process steps for the warehouse.    

Want to read and/or hear more about returns?

  • Optimizing the returns process requires a smart WMS solution. Read in this blog how SAP EWM ensures you keep satisfied customers and margins.  

  • In this webinar, we explain how to streamline the returns process with SAP EWM.

Wondering how the return process can work for your wholesale business? Request a demo. We will explain you how it works. Mail to Bart de Bijl: