Managers unprepared for costly post-Christmas returns

Posted on 27 Dec 2012 by Tim Brown

According to a study recently conducted by Intermec over two-thirds of businesses (68%) surveyed in the UK recognise that the post-holiday period represents the most challenging time of the year due to the high numbers of returns.

Yet despite this, more than half (52%) of distribution centre managers admit they don’t have the appropriate processes and tools in place to determine if returned goods should be discarded, returned to vendor or moved quickly back into inventory.

The survey with 250 supply chain and distribution centre managers in the UK, France, Germany and North America, also revealed:

Adoption of ‘Reverse Logistics’ in the supply chain:

  • 44%of distribution centre managers admit that managing returned goods is a pain point within the business.
  • 57% of distribution centre managers experienced challenges when managing returned goods last year and have started to identify changes needed to get returned stock back into the supply chain as soon as possible.
  • To combat this increasing strain of returned goods and minimise the impact of the holiday season to the bottom line, 60% of distribution centre managers are turning to ‘reverse logistics’ – the reverse management of stock to get items back into the supply chain as soon as possible.

Meeting short-term demands of the holiday season:

  • For many businesses, the holiday season provides unique challenges when compared to any other time of the year.  Nearly two-thirds (61%) of managers identified this period as the most ‘challenging’.
  • To address short-term requirements during this busy period, 62 percent of warehouse managers view the leasing of hardware – also known as Hardware as a Service (HaaS) – as a cost-effective hardware solution for managing the peaks of service.
  • With 72% of managers citing multifunctional devices as critical to ensuring worker flexibility and performance, HaaS is becoming an increasingly popular alternative for businesses looking to increase short term mobility.

Ian Snadden, VP EMEA at Intermec, said: “The holiday season is the busiest and most challenging time of the year for distribution operations, especially those engaged in Business to Consumer (B to C) fulfillment.

“With challenging lead times, increased volumes, temporary staffing and the after holiday deluge of returns, improving mobility solutions for the workforce becomes more critical than ever before if businesses are to meet customer demands and improve profitability.”

To find out more, visit