Up to a third of gifts bought at this time of year are returned, meaning a reliable Reverse Logistics strategy is an essential for retailers, especially after Christmas. An inefficient returns service can be damaging to a brand, resulting in lost customer loyalty and ultimately a loss of revenue. By making returns easy, preferably free, and providing customers with a stress-free process for returning unwanted items, retailers can secure customer confidence and make sure that a return is not the last transaction a customer has with them.

Of course, it is essential for retailers and manufacturers to have robust Returns and Logistics strategies in place throughout the year and across all sectors they work in, from industrial machinery to household appliances, office equipment, vehicles and beyond.

In order to manage returns efficiently and productively, businesses should build Reverse Logistics into their supply chain management plans and include Returns in the sales process as a measure of the true value of a product.

Embedding connectivity into products can make all the difference. The advantages of connected products and services are more often than not described in terms of the benefits to consumers or society, yet the business benefits of connectivity are compelling enough themselves.

These include Reverse Logistics, although it starts when the product leaves the factory. Connectivity enables a superior out-of-the-box experience (OOBE) and customer experience (CX), but here we will focus on how OEM benefits from data collection from products in the field and how it can contribute to a Reverse Logistics strategy. Understanding where and how products are actually used from an operational and environmental perspective can:

  • activate remote maintenance services which enable businesses to optimise machines in the field.
  • provide customers with a maintenance service based on individual data collected remotely from their appliances.
  • mean that repairs and deliveries of replacement parts can be ordered automatically, saving time and stress and increasing levels of customer satisfaction.
  • enable an accurate service record to be compiled which can ensure maximum value is derived through returned, end-of-lease or refurbished equipment.

Collecting real usage data and tracking products through their lifecycle can enable businesses to monitor the success of their product lines and adjust their supply chain accordingly.

Attitudes to purchasing and ownership among the millennial generation will make the X as a Service (XaaS) model ever more popular and keeping customers happy and reducing returns will be high up on the priority list for suppliers and retailers. Meeting customer expectations and maintaining their loyalty will become ever more important, and IoT-connected devices will enable businesses to excel in this respect.

Reducing the number of returns and encouraging a healthy service history of our household, office and industrial appliances will shape the future of retail. From a logistics perspective, for every returned product there are three shipments to manage – and they all incur costs for businesses. By providing a better repair and maintenance service to customers and utilising data collected throughout the entire sales process to influence decisions, businesses can successfully minimise returns and use them to improve overall sales performance. Assured IoT connectivity will be the perfect partner in this process and we’re excited to be in a position of influence and collaboration with the forerunners of these new developments.

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