Oliver Hahn

The process behind your returned Christmas present

In 2020, Christmas was quite different from what we’re all used to. Covid-19 made it difficult to get together with friends and family. Luckily, it seems that the tradition of Christmas presents still survived.

About these presents: every year, the holiday season marks a busy period for online retailers and their warehouse staff. Starting with a peak in November due to Black Friday, and staying busy until Christmas.  In January, warehouses are also pretty busy. However, this time it’s the Returns departments where it’s all hands on deck. The reason? Let’s just say that not every Christmas present is exactly what you wished for!

Due to the huge increase in the number of returned products, there is a growing need to improve the efficiency of the returns process. The reasoning behind this is quite simple: the faster you can process a returned product, the less people you need to manage the workload. Next to that, it’s important to make the returned products available in the warehouse again, thus decreasing the total stock levels of that particular product.

In the typical Warehouse Management System, the returns process is not as sophisticated or optimized as inbound- or outbound processes. As a result, processing a returned product is – in many cases – a cumbersome process, which requires a higher level of knowledge of the operator. Due to the increasing volume of the returns flow, the need to optimize the process is higher than ever. 

SAP has identified this demand, and has provided a solution by introducing the Customer Returns Fiori app in their state-of-the-art WMS, Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM). The Customer Returns app comprises three major improvements, which are described below.

User Interface

The most important – and most visible – improvement is the new Fiori app, which is built specifically to processing returned products. This app offers a completely new user interface, optimized for processing returns. Thanks to visual tools, including the use of actual product images and smart use of colors, the operator is being guided through the process in an intuitive and accessible fashion.

Planned Returns vs. Unplanned Returns

From a functionality point-of-view, SAP EWM supports several different process variants, including Planned and Unplanned Returns. A Planned Return is a return which has been announced / registered by the customer before it arrives at the warehouse. For these returns, the Fiori app is able to recognize the returned product by scanning the Returns Order or RMA number. Unplanned returns are also supported; in this case EWM will make a remote function call to the ERP system, create a Returns Order in the background, and process the return immediately. This is a big improvement compared to previous returns processing, where the operator had to perform these process steps manually in different systems.

Quality Inspection Integration

One of the most important steps in the returns process, is the quality inspection check. Is the product used, or can it be sold as new? Or does it have to be scrapped?
SAP EWM integrates the returns process with the quality inspection functionality. This way, the quality check results are being registered, and each decision triggers a separate follow-on process in the warehouse.

Which advantages does SAP EWM Advanced Customer Returns processing offer?

To summarize: the SAP EWM Customer Returns app makes it a lot easier and faster to process all those returned Christmas presents. Are you also looking forward to improve your returns process? Please contact us or visit Intelligent Logistics| McCoy 


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