The complexity of today’s supply chain unfortunately makes it highly susceptible to day-to-day operational headaches for retailers and brands alike. Merchandise can arrive damaged or in unsellable condition, merchandise may not be properly ticketed for orders and product labels might have incorrect information. With product returns increasing at a high rate as more consumers shop online and take advantage of progressively customer-friendly returns options, retailers and brands stand to lose plenty of money and time due to these supply chain errors.
But that’s not all that’s on the line.
“Lost sales and upset customers due to poor quality aren’t measurable in terms of what it could cost a brand/retailer going forward,” said Mike Kitko, business development and marketing at Retail Reworks. “[Companies] don’t consider the costs of losing loyal customers due to poor product. Also, negative reviews can prevent them from acquiring new customers.”
Retail Reworks restores goods to first quality, salvaging margins and saving brands and retailers the hassle of trying to manage the process themselves.
Kitko said the value of his service is in the quality of the work but also the speed as apparel and footwear products typically have a short selling window.
“Projects that take us a few days might take them weeks or months due to lack of staff and space at their facility,” Kitko said. “We had a project for a retailer who had excess dye on some pillowcases that were bleeding and the shipment was supposed to arrive to the customer in under two weeks. We were able to strip the excess dye from over 100,000 pillowcases in just three days. We even sorted all the different SKUs for the customer so that the shipments could leave our facility to the end customer without any delays.”
While there’s a cost to remediation, it beats the loss incurred if product is deemed unsellable.
“Any product that is thrown away or sold as seconds isn’t bringing in the revenue that the merchandise could if it were in first-quality condition. This really hits home on customer returns,” Kitko said, adding most 3PLs are only interested in product in sellable condition, which means missing tags, excessive wrinkles or lost packing materials could mean products are tossed. “Our philosophy with returns is based off of our returns revenue recapture rate, which allows us to save brands and retailers time and money by handling their entire customer returns process all the while bringing back tons of product to first quality that was destined for the landfill.”
Armed with a team of in-house seamstresses, Retail Reworks offers advanced alteration and repair services. The staff members take on an extensive range of projects, including removing and sewing new labels onto shirts, removing scuff marks from shoes, gluing new soles on sandals, laundering pillowcases, running jeans through an ozone chamber to remove odor and applying heat-transfer labels to cover incorrect label information. Additional services include dry cleaning, pressing and finishing services for apparel, bedding and soft goods, as well as mold remediation services on imported product that is manufactured in humid climates.
The team has had to be versatile because they never know what issues they might find. Kitko says quality control that relies on random sampling at the factory can miss any number of issues. He says the only way to avoid these issues is for inspectors to “put in the effort to inspect each garment, how it’s packaged and the shipping conditions it will encounter on its journey to the buyer.”
Because that’s not happening at the factory level, so it falls to his team to test every zipper or button once a problem has been identified.
In addition to the plethora of services needed to restore, repair and alter damaged goods within the supply chain, the Retail Reworks staff added reverse logistics as a major core offering as returns became a greater burden for retailers.
Typically, 17 percent of apparel is returned to retailers, making it one of the most-returned categories of goods, according to an analysis by 1010data. Returns volume is impossible to predict, and has only become more volatile amid the COVID-19 pandemic, so retailers can’t really set proper expectations as to the amount of merchandise returned or the type of condition these products will be returned in.
In entering the reverse logistics fold, Retail Reworks sees an opportunity to leverage its quality-control expertise to receive, inspect, repair and repack merchandise so it can go back to inventory and avoid sitting on the shelves of a distribution center. Brands can either ship them the returns that come back from their 3PL or distribution center in need of restoration or repair, or allow them to handle the entire returns program by having customers send returns directly to them to inspect, repair, repack and put back into stock.
“Many brands only get one chance with customers,” Kitko said. “One bad experience can lead to a consumer never considering that brand again. Slow and costly returns processes can also lead to consumers avoiding a particular brand.”
Visit www.RetailReworks.com to learn more about this company and its remediation and returns offerings.