1) Overview of Reverse Logistics in Detail
Picture this scenario – you buy a smartphone online, and somehow that same week, you get a chance to visit an offline store of the same smartphone brand. Just for fun, you inquire about the price of your model in the offline store, and find that it’s being sold at a lesser price than what you paid for it.
You can’t help but regret your decision of buying the phone before checking in the offline store, and wonder if there’s a way you can return it and get your money back. If you’ve ever been there, we’re happy to inform you that yes, you can return your product.
Be it due to a need that no longer exists, an unsatisfied product experience, or something else, if a customer wishes to return a product purchased from an eCommerce store, he can do so easily, thanks to reverse logistics mechanisms. Reverse logistics or returns management in eCommerce is a critical operation for any business and is an essential part of ensuring a great customer experience.
If you’re looking for some insight into eCommerce reverse logistics, how it works, how to optimize your business’ reverse logistics, etc. you’re in the right place. Join us as we dive deep into the concept and its basics.
2) What Does eCommerce Reverse Logistics mean?
To put it simply, eCommerce reverse logistics refers to the procedure followed when a customer returns a product purchased from an eCommerce merchant. Accepting a customer-initiated return, ensuring an agent picks up the product (in reusable condition) from the customer, tracking the delivery of the product to the local storage facility, then monitoring its return shipment to the point of origin, and performing a ton of other duties to ensure it can be resold – all of these activities are a part of the reverse logistics chain for any eCommerce business.
The movement of products from the point of consumption to the point of origin is done primarily for two reasons: discarding or recapturing value. This procedure can quickly become complex if a business doesn’t handle it with diligence. This is why several eCommerce merchants collaborate with third-party operators to handle their reverse logistics. The aim is to make the return procedure as simple as possible for the customers and as efficient as possible for the business.
3) When and where is Reverse Logistics used?
When items travel backward from their delivery location via the distribution chain to the vendor and maybe back to the suppliers, organizations use reverse logistics. The purpose is to either recover the product's value or discard it while also ensuring business retention.
Returns are worth about a trillion dollars worldwide each year, and they've become more common as eCommerce has grown. Did you know that in-store purchases are returned less than 10% of the time, whereas eCommerce orders are returned at least 30% of the time? Now imagine how important a part of the eCommerce supply chain the reverse logistics mechanism is.
4) Reverse Logistics Vs. Traditional Logistics?
Product flow in the traditional sense begins with suppliers and ends with a manufacturer or distributor. The goods are then distributed to retailers and customers.
Reverse logistics management begins with the consumer and moves backwards through the supply chain, returning products to any point along the supply chain.
Supply chains that are well-designed are adaptable to changes and can handle certain reverse logistics requirements. The reverse process might return products to the original supplier or one step back in the chain. They can even resell or discount returned items through their usual sales or discount channels.
5) How does eCommerce Reverse Logistics work?
Reverse logistics can take many forms depending on a company's operational requirements. The flow, on the other hand, includes the following steps:
5.1)Retrieval of items
The retrieval of the product from the end consumer is usually the first step. Businesses have a number of choices for allowing customers to return products for repair or exchange. Local shipping providers can set up drop-off points for businesses, or they can arrange for a shipment pick-up.
5.2)Fixing, refurbishing, and repairing
This stage involves restoring, repairing, or preparing the items for resale once they have arrived at the vendor. Depending on the specific type of product, inventory planning is done by the company. This step varies from business to business.
5.3)Screening of reprocessed inventory
Before returning repaired or repurposed items to inventory, they must be inspected. It's an important aspect of the reverse logistics process because shipping out things that don't meet a retailer's standards has a big impact on consumer happiness and loyalty. A brand's reputation can be badly harmed by a single incorrect packaging.
5.4)Product repurposing and reselling
Products are now ready to be disposed of or resold after being repaired, screened, and sorted.
6) List of Different Types of Reverse Logistics components
There are many types of reverse logistics components that are responsible for return handling. Let’s see each one in detail in the next section:
This procedure deals with consumer returns. Such actions should be quick, easy to handle, visible, and simple. Customers evaluate a company based on its return policy and return flow. A re-return occurs when an item is returned for the second time. Extended return policies, such as granting store credit, are frequently triggered by these re-returns.
6.2)Return policy and procedure (RPP)
RPP is a firm's policy on returns that is usually published on its website. These terms and conditions specified in the policy should be easy to find and follow for the customers. Employees should follow them as well.
6.3)RefurbishmentRemanufacturing, refurbishment, and repairing, are all types of reverse logistics management. These tasks include product repair, rebuilding, and reworking. Businesses recover replaceable, usable parts or resources from other products, and this procedure is called cannibalization. Reconditioning entails dismantling, cleaning, and reassembling items.
6.4)Packaging managementThis focuses on reuse of packing materials that in turn reduces waste. This is great for waste management.
When a product reaches the end of its life, it is no longer usable or functional. It's possible that the product will no longer satisfy a customer or other requirements. Rather, it will be replaced with a newer or superior version. EOL products are frequently recycled or disposed off by manufacturers.
When a delivery fails, the agent returns the merchandise to the sorting center which returns the commodities to their original location. While it's uncommon, certain sorting facilities may include staff that can figure out the reason for a delivery failure, solve the problem, and resend.
6.7)Repairs and maintenance
Under some item contracts, consumers and firms are responsible for maintaining or repairing equipment if problems emerge. After repairing damaged returned products, the business occasionally sells them to another customer.
7) How Does Reverse Logistics Benefit eCommerce?
In today's economy, online shopping is the most practical option. Almost everything is currently accessible online, and most people use online stores to select and acquire items. As a result, it is possible that in the future, eCommerce platforms will be a critical cog of the market economy.
The success of an eCommerce platform largely depends on the efficacy of its reverse logistics system, and thus, if you don’t have such an operation in place for your business currently, you should try and include it as soon as you can. Here are some of the advantages of having a good reverse logistics system in place for your eCommerce firm:
7.1) Customer retention
If the reverse logistics operation of a business isn’t efficient, a customer typically has to face issues like long wait time or failed pick up. As a result, the consumer can get annoyed and leave negative reviews for the company, and this can damage the brand reputation severely. Hence, timely reverse logistics service is essential for retaining clients and demonstrating the quality of services your business offers.
When reverse logistics works flawlessly, operational, shipping, and aftermarket service expenses are instantly lowered, and the business becomes more productive and profitable.
7.3)High Operational Velocity
Faster returns indicate fast operation speed. If returns get to the warehouse rapidly, then the entire speed of the transaction cycle increases. This gives consumers a positive impression of the company and increases the company's brand value.
7.4)Transparency across the network
When you know all about the forward and backward movement of the products, you have a clear image of your inventory. As a result, you can plan more effectively and operate more efficiently.
8) How does Reverse Logistics create value?
Reverse logistics adds value to a business by converting junk into revenue and establishing consumer trust. Returns are resold, reused, and recycled by businesses. Furthermore, efficient reverse logistics keeps storage and distribution costs low. Everyone benefits from using reverse logistics to improve the efficiency of the traditional supply chain.
Some companies keep their forward and backward logistics separate, while others integrate the two. The success of merging them is determined by the company's experience, product value, and return volume. In any case, they employ measures to increase their supply chain profitability ratios.
9) Optimization of Reverse Logistics- How to Optimize eCommerce Reverse Logistics
The goal of optimizing the reverse logistics process is to reduce the cost and time involved in processing returned items, cut down RTO percentage, manage inventory levels, shorten product disposal time, and increase customer satisfaction.
Companies require coherent plans that account for speed, efficiency, and cost to optimize reverse logistics. While making plans, consider policies, shipping partners, statistics, resources, logistics, and mobility while taking action.
The following are six key methods to optimize reverse logistics:
9.1) Policies and agreements
Examine and make changes in the policies for returns and repairs at your organization. These procedures should be straightforward and take into account the root causes of returns and repairs. Returns and repairs policies can be significant differentiators for a company in the market.
9.2) Collaboration with vendors:Close coordination with suppliers can guarantee that customers get a seamless and integrated experience rather than a disconnected one.
9.3) Investigate logistics transportationReview the forward and reverse logistics transportation processes on a regular basis. Check to see whether some of these procedures and transit can be combined in order to be more efficient.
9.4) DataOne can learn why consumers are returning things by gathering data on product returns. After that, you can alter your sales, product design, and forward logistics operations as needed.
9.5) Centralized return centers
Centralized return centers can help you in the sorting of products and identifying the appropriate step for each of them. With a center, businesses can more efficiently reclaim product value. If your organization doesn't have the financial resources to set up a dedicated returns center, consider dedicating a section of your warehouse or factory to returns.
Streamline processes with the use of cloud-based reverse logistics software. A web application, for instance, can keep records of asset recovery, manage restoration, and give business intelligence analyses.
10) What is the Future of eCommerce Reverse Logistics
The future revolves around reducing return disruptions in the eCommerce industry. Reverse logistics can be used to integrate all aspects of the returns process. Connecting the product data to how personnel must handle it is one method to integrate returns.
The supply chain can support this integration by documenting what happens to a returned product, such as whether it will be resold, repaired, or recycled for raw materials. Reverse logistics' future includes efficient supply chain management technology that aids in these decisions and generates useful reports.