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Retailer Returns Issues

Eliminating the Headaches and Nuances Associated with Retailer Returns

iNymbus helps manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers create solutions designed to increase workplace efficiencies through innovation and robotic process automation (RPA). We help organizations reduce labor costs and automate internal processes.

Retail returns can be a logistical nightmare that wastes human capital and resources. Companies struggle with the returns process due to difficulties associated with organizing and processing vast amounts of information. 



At iNymbus, we decided to utilize RPA and artificial intelligence to eliminate manual returns variance processing. Our solutions allow companies to submit information directly to retailer portals, helping to streamline and automate returns variance analysis. We’re able to expedite business interactions using a combination of robots and AI.

Manual Returns Processing

Why are Returns so Challenging?

Distributors operate as a middleman between retailers and manufacturers. Return variances are the responsibility of the distributors who must act promptly to recover as many losses as possible.

Handling returns can be a logistical nightmare. Retailers don’t want to hold onto returned items for prolonged periods, as a result it is common for retailers to quickly send returns back to the manufacturer, who is left dealing with many potential problems, including:

  • Increased warehouse costs from storing returned goods
  • Returns may be missing items or parts
  • The wrong products may be shipped
  • Incorrect pricing or prices that differs from the original purchases
  • Suppliers have to pay for shipping and handling costs

Returns handled incorrectly can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars lost in unreconciled returns variances.

 

Reverse Logistics


Reverse logistics is the process in which consumer goods are returned to their original point of origin. First, consumers must return unwanted items to be reclaimed. Returns are then sent off to a collection center before being prepared for redistribution to secondary outlets. Depending upon the type of item, products are typically either recycled or resold. Monitoring the flow of reverse logistics within your organization is critical to maintaining an efficient supply chain.

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While forward logistics are typically concerned with product specifications and packaging requirements, reverse logistics can bring about many other complicated issues. Forward logistics involves moving products in the most efficient and time-sensitive manner possible. Returning products, on the other hand, is a more complex endeavor that requires close coordination amongst all segments of the supply chain.

Distributors that wish to maintain competitiveness in the marketplace must be efficient on both ends. As millions of items get returned, many companies do not have the proper resources allocated to manage returns effectively. Inefficiencies in managing returned merchandise can create substantial yearly profit losses.

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Returns Variance Analysis

What is Returns Variance Analysis?  


Return variance analysis is a process that involves reconciling differences between RTV (Return to Vendor) and RMA (Return to Manufacturer) documentation. This is accomplished by reviewing the RTV for pertinent information such as quantity, pricing, and other data. Next, these details are reviewed against the supporting RMA information.

Once the return credit is received from the warehouse, the supplier reviews it for any potential discrepancies and lets the retailer know if there are any pricing or quantity variances. This type of research can be time-intensive and require navigating several systems and databases concurrently.

Individuals may need to use ERP or warehouse systems to find specific tracking numbers or pricing data as the product may have been purchased during times of discounts or special promotions. Conflicting information on both ends may complicate the situation, and warehouse systems tend to be imperfect. Many large retailers carry a wide variety of items and returns may be uncategorized, causing additional problems.

Automating Returns Variance Processing White Paper

Types of Returns Variance  


Different retailers utilize specific return processes depending upon the company. Certain organizations may require one-to-one matches on RMAs, while others prefer quarterly returns. Other companies may use random sampling type metrics to periodically audit discrepancies.

The most common types of return processes used include:

  • Single RMA (Amazon uses these types of return variances)
  • Returns Variance Analysis for a set of RMAs (typically performed quarterly)
  • Returns Variance Analysis over a predefined amount of time

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Datasets of this magnitude may be difficult to organize and process. Often manufacturers and distributors are forced to leave money on the table. Simple return variance mishaps can result in tremendous financial losses in the form of bad debt.

Handling variances of this magnitude can be compounded during the busy holiday season. Distributors struggle with handling the complexity as the middlemen between suppliers and retailers.

Solving Returns Variance Issues

A Real-World Example of Retail Return Issues  

 

A true-life case study involved a distributor that was inundated with hundreds of thousands of returns from a variety of retailers. As a very large distributor, the company was experiencing 5,000 returns per month. Managing communication with manufacturers, retailers, and customers proved to be challenging and monotonous as there were thousands of suppliers, hundreds of thousands of products, and hundreds of retailers.

Operating on razor-thin margins and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreconciled returns variances made the systemic issue even more frustrating. To compound the problem, volume tripled during the holiday season, causing excessive return processing delays that sometimes took months to process. The distributor attempted to implement automation and add additional staff, but the amount of capital available for internal investments was limited.

So what happened?

  • 5,000 returns/month
  • Triple during the holidays
  • Months to process returns
  • Hundreds of thousands of dollars being lost in unreconciled returns variances 

The distributor then approached iNymbus and asked them to implement robotic process automation (RPA), so they could submit returns variance analysis automatically to retailer portals.

Download to read book distributor chargeback and deductions case study.

 

How iNymbus Solved their Return Variance Issues 

Previously, teams of people were needed to handle return variances. Analysts had to navigate through multiple systems while juggling several other tasks. iNymbus was able to create automated solutions able to streamline the returns process.

 

Benefits of Robotic Process Automation 

 

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Robotic process automation (RPA) helped the distribution company eliminate repetitive manual tasks using AI capabilities. The technology was able to anticipate specific variances, thereby improving return efficiencies. After implementing iNymbus technology, employees were able to place focus on strategic goals instead of minor tedious functions.


The robotic systems automated several different functions, including:

  • Retrieving data from ERP systems
  • Performing automated validation between systems
  • Obtaining and reconciling line level detail from web portals
  • Uploading documentation to retailer portals

    The result was an increase in the distributor’s available workforce. After implementing iNymbus, staff began performing other essential analytical functions as opposed to repetitive manual tasks.

    Overall, the robotic process automation capabilities helped to improve employee morale while simultaneously increasing productivity. The newly created robotics technology was able to increase reliability within the workplace as formula errors drastically decreased.

    iNymbus helped the distributor process returns more efficiently while staying within compliance windows. The streamlined capabilities will likely increase efficiencies in the future as retailers will be better equipped to handle Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales—times where returns become notoriously high.

    At iNymbus, we schedule robotic processing solutions demos and implement cloud services geared towards individual business process needs. When it comes to returns variance processing, our robotic solutions were designed to improve workplace efficiencies while eliminating repetitive manual tasks.

 

Returns Variance Automated Processing

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Question: What types of savings can I expect after implementing robotics automation?

Answer: While exact savings may vary from business to business, companies experience increases in manpower along with improved workplace flexibility.

Question: How long does it take to get robotics automation processing up and running?

Answer: iNymbus can implement robotics automation techniques within four weeks. We already have existing robotics technology available; it’s merely a matter of fine-tuning bots to work with specific processes and systems.

Question: Does the IT department need to be involved with the implementation process?

Answer: Although the process can vary from company to company, efficient IT department involvement is minimal as bots are typically up and running within eight hours or less.

If you would like more information on how our robotic systems are helping companies handle return variance processing, please contact us for more information and support. We’ll be sure to provide case studies you can review on returns variance processing issues.

Download to read book distributor chargeback and deductions case study.

We started looking for a solution. In fact, we went to RVCF to look for solutions. At RVCF, we met with iNymbus and requested a product demo. After the Demo, our CFO was ready to sign at the show, due to our deductions processing issues. We absolutely LOVE iNymbus! Great team, great product. Super-fast implementation.

Rebecca Cassel Distributor

We went with iNymbus because of efficiencies. When you have to communicate with your customers, the big ones have portals, and to communicate and to stay efficient you have to put automated processes in place. These are high volume transaction companies, and everything has now gone back to a transaction level dispute (transaction by transaction) thanks to iNymbus.

iNymbus Customer Manufacturer

Contact iNymbus for a Demo!

See iNymbus in action disputing and resolving chargebacks for our clients. Find out if your deductions and chargebacks are at the volume and dollar amount where dispute and resolution automation will pay back in spades. Hint: They usually are.