Though supply chain logistics has been the primary focus, an increasing number of companies are discovering the great deal of money that can be made in looking the opposite way, and sending things back. Reverse logistics is a rapidly advancing concept in today’s business world, as Third Party Logistics Providers (3PLs) discovered that up to 7% of an enterprise’s gross sales can be captured by return costs through the reverse logistics process.
What is the Reverse Logistics Process?
In a nutshell, the reverse logistics process is that of removing new or used products from their initial place in the supply chain; this occurs when customers return products, and when there is overstocked inventory or outdated merchandise. The products are then redistributed from the point of consumption to the point of origin, in order to recapture product value. The ultimate goal of the reverse logistics process is to maximize value, or achieve proper disposal of the product to the satisfaction of the customer or consumer, as customer satisfaction is the number one priority.
How does it Work?
The detailed reverse logistics process differs based on the company’s unique products and policies. According to Chuck Poirier of the Computer Sciences Corporation, the reverse logistics process can be broadly outlined in five points:
1) Reconditioning- when a product is cleaned, repaired, and restored to a “like new” state.
2) Refurbishing- a more detailed form of reconditioning, particularly in repairs.
3) Remanufacturing- Requires disassembling and reassembling the product entirely.
4) Resell- when the reconditioned, refurbished, or remanufactured product is sold again as new.
5) Recycle- when a product is reduced to its basic elements, which are reused.
A Booming Industry’s Success Stories
The concept of reverse logistics has created the new industry of Third Party Logistics Providers (3PLs), which specialize in reverse logistics applications, customized to fit the size and type of any client’s company. One such company is Unyson, which manages returned/damaged products for clients. They conduct the reverse logistics process by entering the items into a custom built Web-based communication and transportation network, which allows them access to track shipments in transit in an organized fashion, and ensure that they return to a return center for reconstitution or disposal. Companies that benefit from such services include Bed, Bath & Beyond- which, thanks to reverse logistics processing, can provide their customers a no questions asked return policy, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.