Blog Posts 5 Ways a 3PL Can Make Holiday Returns Easier


Key Takeaways

  • Along with rising holiday sales, expect to see more returns.
  • Reverse logistics can be challenging for retailers and brands.
  • Partnering with a 3PL can help to address several common pain points.

With the holiday season winding down, returns are winding up, especially if you’re selling online. On average, 20 to 30% of all products ordered online are returned.

How you handle those transactions can have a significant impact on your holiday sales. Shoppers’ buying decisions are often influenced by how easy it is to return their purchase if it doesn’t measure up to expectations. Needless to say, it’s more critical than ever to offer – and deliver on – hassle-free return policies.

If you’re on the receiving end of those returns, however, you know that is no easy task. Processing a high volume of returns can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. It’s also expensive. In fact, the cost of processing returns is expected to increase 7% this year, according to CBRE.

In dire need of reverse logistics support? A third-party logistics provider (3PL) could be a valuable resource.

Outsourcing Helps to Ease Pain of Reverse Logistics

Engaging a 3PL can help to address five common pain points in the returns process:

  1. Our returns will be out of control after Christmas. A third-party provider has flexible space, staffing and other scalable resources to handle spikes in return volume.
  2. We can’t keep track of all these orders. With a robust order management system (OMS), a 3PL can manage returns and get products back in inventory more efficiently and cost effectively.
  3. We need a centralized hub for handling returns. 3PLs often offer convenient facilities close to the end customer to help process returns and get salable products back into stock faster.
  4. These free returns really add up! A 3PL’s established relationships with carriers, understanding of pricing considerations and ability to negotiate rates can help minimize return shipping costs.
  5. Can we put these products back in inventory? To ensure quality control, an experienced provider can carefully inspect incoming products and determine if they can be restocked. They may also refurbish or repackage items as needed.

It’s never too soon to start your wish list for Holiday 2022. If reverse logistics turns out to be the coal in your 2021 stocking, consider asking Santa for a 3PL.

Related to: Holiday Fulfillment Selling Online