Websites that are designed to look like business-to-consumer platforms yet feature business-to-business workflows are highly functional and appealing to consumers, writes Guidance executive Brian Beck. "Function trumps form, and the clearer the workflow is, the more likely buyers will come back to make purchases in the future," he argues.
Amazon is emailing or even banning certain customers who have, in the company's judgment, abused its return policy. "According to former Amazon managers, the company terminates accounts for behaviors including requesting too many refunds, sending back the wrong items or violating other rules, such as receiving compensation for writing reviews," write Khadeeja Safdar and Laura Stevens.
Assigning an executive vice president of reverse logistics can help companies achieve a unified, streamlined approach to handling reverse logistics, writes Tony Sciarrotta, executive director of the Reverse Logistics Association. "The fact that companies are identifying reverse logistics as part of their competitive advantage now bears out the need for there to be an executive level position coordinating the efforts of all facets of RL, while effectively representing RL to the balance of executive management," he adds.
Companies are using Shopify, Amazon and other marketplaces to offer products at a markup that are drop-shipped from a third party, although there are concerns about quality and whether the consumer is getting the best price. Some of these companies will advertise on Facebook to attract purchases.
Retailers often struggle to deal with the financial burden of returned and liquidated items while also balancing the need for a circular economy, writes Sender Shamiss, CEO and president at goTRG. His company offers sellers software as a service and other solutions that can reduce consumers' environmental footprint and keep returned or overstocked goods out of landfills.
Indian e-commerce company Flipkart plans to reduce up to 15% of returns over the next year, in part by conducting surprise audits on sellers to ensure product quality. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will help Flipkart to ensure sellers adhere to quality guidelines.
Kohl's has seen higher foot traffic since agreeing to take Amazon returns at select stores, an analysis from Gordon Haskett Research Advisors says. Online purchase return rates are typically higher than that of in-store purchases, according to the Reverse Logistics Association.
Autonomous driving, connected vehicles and smart manufacturing are three areas where data can help automotive manufacturers innovate, Varun Chhabra writes. Advanced sensors and driver-assistance systems are two examples of automation innovation in the industry.
Gabor Shoes has launched an e-commerce platform that sells directly while routing many orders to the nearest merchant for fulfillment. "Even if we grow our own end-customer business, it's important for us to keep our retailers stable," said Markus Reheis, chief marketing officer.
Manufacturers are using Industry 4.0 tools to increase productivity and to realize other benefits, many of which relate to logistics. "We know you're not going to order a skid-steer loader on your smartphone but there's a whole generation of supply chain executives that are being raised with the Amazon expectations at the top of their mind, and they want infinite flexibility," said Pete Guarraia of Bain & Co.