A new survey from supply chain software company JDA Software found that improving inventory control and accuracy is a top priority for companies this year. When asked about the top three ways to improve distribution and warehouse operations, 40 percent of respondents cited inventory control and accuracy,followed by labor productivity (37 percent) and improving customer service (32 percent).  The survey, “Vision2015: Supply Chain Market Study,” also revealed that customer satisfaction is also a top challenge when it comes to distribution and logistics, with 30 percent of respondents identifying it as their main challenge in this area. We agree that inventory control and accuracy is incredibly important, especially when it comes to customer satisfaction. We’d even argue that the two are linked– without visibility into and control over your inventory, you’re guaranteed to leave customers feeling disappointed. There are two main inventory themes that we see in our line of work – the first of which relates directly relate to customer satisfaction. First, inventory control and accuracy enables retailers to get an ordered item to the customer in a timely fashion so they don’t get frustrated and possibly decide not to shop with the retailer in the future. This is a no-brainer. In addition, retailers have to work with returns of all kinds – from a piece of clothing that didn’t fit to products that don’t live up to a shopper’s expectations. When it comes to returns, retailers need to be able to track what items are coming back to the warehouse so they can either sell them to another customer or company, or return them to the manufacturer. For example, if the returned product is damaged, a retailer might want to send straight back to the manufacturer, or if it’s the end of the season and the retailer is already swapping out bathing suits for fall jackets,they may opt to send it to Overstock. On the other hand, if it’s mid-June and swimsuit season is still in full effect, a retailer will want good inventory controls so they can quickly inspect the item and resell it. If it sits too long, they’ll miss their selling window. Having this visibility into inventory availability – including what items are coming back – is critical in retail. Otherwise, retailers are left with excess inventory that can quickly add up to a major loss for the company. This visibility into returns is important year-round, but especially in January andFebruary, which account for 40 to 60 percent of the year’s returns. Retailers that work with Newgistics for returns and use ourSmartLabel technology have a competitive advantage because of the intelligence  built into the return label. These retailers know what products are coming back long before the products hit their docks, unlike retailers using other shipping providers’ solutions. When selecting a returns partner, it’s important to find one that can give them advance knowledge of what’s coming back – and when. This helps retailers improve inventory accuracy and planning, and provides a better customer experience overall. To learn more about our intelligent SmartLabel technology, visit http://www.newgistics.com/corp_returns/.