Feb 01, 2007 10:30 PM  By

This is another installment in our continuing series spotlighting speakers at the upcoming 17th National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment (NCOF), which Multichannel Merchant co-presents with the Direct Marketing Association. This year’s NCOF will be held in Schaumburg, IL, from April 29 to May 2. This month, Rene Jones, founder of Burbank, CA-based supply chain services provider Total Logistic Solutions, talks about properly processing returns through receiving.

Returns and receiving are inextricably linked to the effectiveness of your distribution center. Yet few companies understand the relationship between receiving and returns — and therein lies the problem.

To process returns effectively, your organization needs to make returns a top priority. Many times returns processing takes a back seat to other processes, so a root-cause analysis is rarely performed. Putting off returns processing can lead to picking errors and further warehouse inefficiency.

Many don’t have a person dedicated to processing returns. To select the right people you must focus on what a person can do and not what kind of equipment they have at their disposal.

Before enlisting an employee to handle your returns, you should ask several questions. For instance, does he know the product line? Can he work in a fast-paced environment? Is he good with numbers? Does he have a problem communicating? Does he understand the importance of the receiving department?

The right people are most likely already in the organization; in fact, bringing a new person in off the street to receive goods can sometimes create problems.

To ensure proper receiving and returns processing, you might want to institute a “day’s work in a day” policy. That means if a return comes in today, it must be processed today.

Everyone in distribution should know that the outbound is dependent on the inbound, and that backorders are filled when receipts are completed. Most DC personnel will tell you the bulk of their orders are processed late in the day. But that’s because the receiving reports are usually entered toward the end of the day. Instead of waiting until the end of receiving to enter the data, you might key in the information after every fifth or 10th load received. This will ensure a more equal distribution of the work for your picking department.