What is Reverse Logistics and how can you effectively manage it.
Logistics is a complex business with many unforeseen events propping up which needs to be handled immediately. One such event which needs to be finely addressed and planned is Reverse Logistics. To understand the importance of this growing logistics operations it is worth diving into some of the latest statistics concerning reverse logistics.
According to the latest information from Statistica in the US alone the return deliveries are estimated to cost $550 billion by the year 2020 which is approximately 75% more compared to the previous four years figures. With the arrival of the E-commerce era, Reverse Logistics has been of extreme importance more so in a scenario where physical retailers have been replaced by online providers and sellers whose sales had predictively touched around $414 million in the year 2018.
What is reverse logistics?
To clearly define reverse logistics in the simplest ways, it stands for all related operations where goods need to be returned from the place of consumption to the place of their origin. This sounds strange as rather for any logistic operation aimed to deliver the goods to the final customer this is a reverse of what should be happening. Precisely why such operations in logistics is termed to be reverse logistics. Now let’s understand the reason for such a different kind of operation and the need of the day which has seen it evolving so fast recently.
Managing reverse logistics is not a thing of ease as we are trying to address a situation where the shipper needs to handle a disappointed customer who wants to return the goods purchased for probably a replacement. Hence basically the shipper or the 3PL agent has to retrieve the product and needs to ship the item back to the hub. The return can be due to a few reasons being damaged product or an item which does not satisfy the customer. This has to be precisely accessed which is the key in initiating a counter shipping operation.
Hence, to put it more precisely, reverse logistics is the process of moving the goods from the final destination or consumption for the sole purpose of either disposing of, remanufacturing, refurbishing or reinitiating a similar replacement order to the customer. It also includes the process of the management of surplus of products which are left as returned. It is worth to be noted that in the online retailing business at least 30% of all products ordered are returned in comparison with almost 8.89% products which are purchased in brick and mortar shops.
Reverse logistics can also be taken as a source of accessing the quality of the products and the efficiency of the operations of all parties involved as this is a direct indicator of how much your customer is satisfied with the product and the delivery operations. Hence one needs to address this with accurate planning and as far as possible to avoid it as items which fall under the reverse logistics can become a big source of concern to any organisations profits.
Having understood the importance of reverse logistics it should also be noted that with a good reverse logistics process in place companies not only be able to track returns but also get the desired value from the returned products. To implement a successful reverse logistics process the following points can be followed:
Real-time monitoring and tracking facility:
The company should have a very viable and state of the art process and platform that facilitates its customers to return the product with ease. The platform should have proper data capture points that will help to categories the products to be returned as damaged, defective or scenarios where a product needs to be replaced with a new one. This will give the shipper or the 3PL agency to ship back the product to their desired origin based on this categorisation also with the help of the real-time monitoring capabilities to ensure the product reaches its origin.
Engage with the best warehouse and distribution centers:
One of the many important factors that should be taken into consideration and aptly engaged is that of the warehouse management services and distribution centers. Reverse logistics is all about getting the product once delivered to the endpoint of consumption back to the original point. Hence one needs to strategically decide on the return and collection centers and have more than one collection centers based on the category of the goods returned to access and estimate the quantum of damaged goods or the ones that have to be replaced for redistribution.
Any industry which is doing business that directly satisfies its customer’s, communication is of top importance. Reverse logistics is not of any difference as especially in this kind of processes one has to give utmost heed to the queries of the customers. Let us not forget reverse logistics is all about an unsatisfied customer who wants to return the products delivered. Hence to gain trust companies have to communicate constantly with its customers and need to listen to queries raised by the customers with possible and quick solutions which will leave them delighted.
Partner with a good 3PL logistics provider:
Logistics is a very complex industry and reverse logistics is one such operation which is very much complex. One needs to have a separate logistics department with an able human resource team to handle the reverse logistics services with a state of the art technologically equipped platform to manage all the data involved. Many companies have started outsourcing their reverse logistics operations to 3rd party logistics vendors that are well equipped in providing the much needed real-time tracking of the reverse shipments and have the best human resources to ensure the proper flow of goods to the origin. This not only reduces the investments involved but also will ensure the effective return management process.
In an industry and business scenario where E-commerce has established itself as the driving factor for any seller, one has to indulge in identifying the problem areas to generate apt solutions. Return of goods is one of the most pertinent concerns and companies must have a solid game plan to reduce operational costs and time lags involved in reverse logistics. Ultimately the goal is to satisfy the customers in the best and fastest way possible.