Optimising e-commerce returns & customer service.

Working to reduce turn-around time of returns, we exceeded customer expectations.

Returns in the e-commerce fashion sector are a fundamental part of the customer journey.

What our client wished to understand was how to most efficiently process returns in their central warehouse. In addition, they wanted to discover what opportunities there were to use return stock in its international returns locations to fulfil orders?


Retail & Ecommerce


8 weeks

The returns challenge.

The primary challenge in returns is ‘speed to availability’ – how can returned stock be made pristine again, and systemically made available for customers to buy? The challenge at the central warehouse was processing space, meaning that the processing had to be undertaken off-site.

Our solution to this was to size the operation, not just currently, but given forecast growth and envisaged spikes in demand. Given this, options around how much of the stock should be physically relocated to the main warehouse could be taken, based on ordering patterns (and the likelihood of this being purchased with stock, not in the returns location).

The same logic was extended to the international returns centre. Once all options had been process mapped, the relative economic costs could be compared and the options evaluated.  Overlaid on this were softer issues, such as the benefit to the business of having stock for sale in as few locations as possible, and the process simplification of ‘always’ treating returns the same way in a location.

Our analysis ensured that our client could retain excellent customer service, even as the business continued to grow.

A flexible framework for growth.

The result was not ‘an answer’, but a framework to make decisions as volumes changed, and the proportion of stock passing through the external sites increased. 

Given the twin objectives of maximising the opportunity to sell products and keeping business processes as simple as possible, we were able to provide the economic cost and process implications of each alternative at all forecast volume levels.

Related Services

Demand forecasting is a critical business requirement to support a range of business functions.

This service will be valuable to you if:

You want to free up cash held in excess stock.

You want to improve product availability.

Your business has a seasonal demand.

Your procurement team wants to stop ‘fire fighting’.

What it actually costs to serve customers, bringing with it valuable insights and opportunities for improvement.

This service will be valuable to you if:

You don’t currently use cost-to-serve as a metric.

You want to benchmark your operations performance.

You want to identify opportunities to reduce costs.

You need to streamline your supply chain activity.

We are independent supply chain and warehouse consultants who specialise in data analysis, leading strategy, and bringing a fresh perspective to your supply chain challenges.

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