For years, companies have used digital supply chain technologies to improve service levels and reduce costs. But the inability to connect disparate systems, provide end-to-end visibility into the supply chain, and crunch massive amounts of data, among other issues, has prevented many companies from achieving the full potential of their supply chains. Now, thanks to the wide availability and adoption of much more powerful digital technologies, including advanced analytics and cloud-based solutions, companies are generating dramatically better returns on their investments.
The product return process has long been neglected at companies, written off as a necessary expense that adds no value. The returns function and any process related to it is often given the bare minimum of time and consideration. Typically, once an item is returned, it's thrown into the back of a warehouse and forgotten about while a new product was shipped to the customer.
After a spike more than a decade ago catalyzed by a buying spree of ERP, supply chain, web front ends and so on, one would think that a market like integration would be a no-grow or go-away market. But quite to the contrary, the tool suites, the delivery options, and sales of even traditional elements continue to grow. Why is this?
Analyst Insight: Improving supply chain visibility has been a major emphasis for supply chain executives since at least 2010, when it became apparent that better visibility into the end-to-end supply chain can lay the foundation for business stakeholders to connect and collaborate within their value network. Rapidly improving technology, including RFID and sensor networks, has made it easier to track assets and products as they move through the entire supply chain. - John Johnson, Senior Content Specialist, Gartner Supply Chain
Analyst Insight: Today's chief supply chain officer (CSCO) is beset by pressures on all fronts, struggling to understand and meet customer demands for cheaper, faster and efficient logistic processes from source to final delivery. Under omnichannel competitive pressures, web and mobile orders tendered by 2 p.m. must be fulfilled and shipped in the same. These growing B2C fulfill-to-deliver flows add shipping and labor costs and, if not optimized, impact margins and profitability. This constitutes a call to action! - Bob Heaney, Research Director and Principal Analyst, Aberdeen Group