returns management

Companies using order management to keep track of sales have to reckon with returned items. In some cases the returns are associated with a particular sale; in other cases the returns may be associated with a customer in general but not to a specific sale. In either case, the stock control system needs the capability to receive items back into stock.

Returned items may come back damaged or opened or changed in some way that makes them different from other stock items of the same product. One way that companies reincorporate the changed items into stock is to create a set of product definitions specifically for damaged items and opened items and to receive returned items not with their original product IDs but using the product IDs of these special product definitions instead. The received items are then reincorporated back into stock on hand as special products, so as not to be confused with the originals.

Various naming schemes for the damaged items and opened items exist. A fireworks display company, for example, may sell a variety of 4″ shells of different effects for a show, such as 4″ Red Chrysanthemum or 4″ Blue to Red w/ Crackle, but may receive 4″ shells returned from that show simply as 4″ Mixed, regardless of the effect type. A medical device company that makes spinal cages, by contrast, may have a separate product definition for returns of each type of spinal cage that it sells.

Companies can use product IDs that make it easy to associate the originals and the returns. For example, if the original product ID for a product is 3LD1001T, then the associated product ID for the return might be 3LD1001T-R. Since inventory management systems can display stock filtered by text search in the product ID field, a naming scheme like this makes it easy to see the originals and the returns by filtering to the common stem in the product ID.

Examples from Finale Inventory

Here is an example video of using Finale Inventory to keep track of returned items.