1) Overview of Reverse Logistics Companies
Starting an eCommerce business is a big decision. You have to consider a lot of things even before you put your products on the virtual marketplace. What do you sell? How do you sell it, and who will be the buyers? Then comes the even more difficult part, how do you send the orders to your customers? Once you've got the shipping logistics figured out, you are pretty much settled, right?
Yes, only there is a minor detail of reverse logistics that you may be missing out on. Surely, no enthusiastic online business entrepreneur has ever started their business, thinking, "but how will customers return their orders if they don't want it?". Nobody likes returns. The customers hate it. And the eCommerce businesses are afraid of it. Yet, it is a crucial part of eCommerce logistics in India. The sooner an online business considers the issues of returns and reverse logistics, the better it is. Failing to answer such questions can quickly become a major problem.
Returns, in eCommerce, is an occupational hazard. And chances are, the more your online business grows, the number of returns will also grow with it. The idea of returns management or reverse logistics is not to run away when something like that happens. But instead, find a way to handle them. Most customers will want to return broken or damaged items but in some cases, they might want to return something that is in perfectly good condition. In such a case, what does your company do? Does it replace those items, offer refunds only in some cases and not in others? All of these considerations, and more, fall into the category of reverse logistics.
2) What is Reverse Logistics in eCommerce?
Reverse logistics is the process of goods or shipments going backward in a supply chain, from the customer to the courier company or the online business owner. It covers everything from returns, recalls, repairs, replacements, or other issues like warranties, etc.
Having a functional and efficient reverse logistics plan is as important as it is complex. Inbound shipments are first sent to the facility from where it was dispatched. This facility could either be a shipping partner's warehouse or the home of an eCommerce business owner. Next, all relevant data is updated, both in the inventory and accounting books. And finally, the online business owner decides what to do with the returned item, as per the request made by the customer.
Managing these complex reverse logistics while manufacturing and selling products online can become too nerve-wracking for an eCommerce business. Enter courier or shipping partners for reverse logistics. These shipping companies are well equipped to handle returns, while also carefully monitoring the reasons returns or cancellations take place. Since, online returns are as high as 20%, having a good reverse logistics mechanism is a priority.
3) Top 10 Best Reverse Logistics Companies for eCommerce Shipping [2021 Updated List]
It's easy to think order fulfillment is key to customer satisfaction but a poor reverse logistics system can be a death blow to customer retention and brand loyalty. Outsourcing reverse logistics to third-party logistics providers (3PLs) and courier services can help streamline the entire forward and backward supply chain. With that in mind, we have curated a list of the 10 best courier and shipping companies for reverse logistics in India. These companies not only provide the best returns management program but also come with several different perks of their own. Read on to find out more!
3.1) Ecom Express
Ecom Express is a courier service provider that came into being in 2013 with operations in 35 cities. Since then, it has expanded to cover over 27000 pin codes in 2650+ cities all over India and across the world.
Though quite popular for freight forwarding, Ecom Express also offers QC-enabled (Quality Check) reverse logistics operation in India. They ensure pick-up and delivery of return products to the warehouse or establishment within 24-72 hours, even on Sundays and holidays. This hastens the process of arranging refunds for the customer.
3.2) First Flight
First Flight has been delivering timely and reliable courier service for the past 30 years. It is spread in 220+ countries around the world and covers over 5000 pin codes in India.
They provide robust reverse logistics solutions to eCommerce businesses in India. Apart from timely pick-ups, track and trace via real-time updates, they also provide immediate exchanges for "dead on arrival products". Of course, this is subject to the terms and conditions of the seller. First Flight offers super competitive pricing and partnering with them can help you cut costs on returns.
This customer-centric logistics partner specializes in reverse logistics. They started out in 2015 and now cover over 7000 pin codes in India across 500+ cities.
Shadowfax has made its name in the eCommerce logistics industry as the best courier partner for reverse logistics. What's more, they even do pick-ups from remote tier-II and tier-III cities that do not fall under the radar of a lot of bigger shipping partners. The Shadowfax Return Connect does faster pickups, makes mandatory quality checks, and offers instant refunds to your customers. After that, goods are immediately shipped to the merchant warehouse.
3.4) Blue Dart
Blue Dart is one of the most trusted courier partners in India. They started their operations in 1982 and since then have expanded their reach to cover 18000+ pin codes all over India and in 220+ other countries.
Bluedart stands up as one of the most cost-effective courier partners for reverse logistics. No matter where your customer is located or where the delivery destination is, you can get your parcel back in time. By tying up with them, you can also use their other noteworthy services like large volume and oversize package shipping, etc. They are the only courier service provider in India with a dedicated fleet of 6 freighters (Boeing 757s), for transporting goods internationally.
Safexpress is a leading supply chain and logistics courier service which began its journey in 1992. They currently have an expansive network of 31000+ pin codes in India and manage 7500+ GPS-enabled, weather-proof container vehicles. Safexpress offers a unique returns feature. They offer reverse logistics to retail stores in malls and shopping complexes if their goods go unsold over a period of time. They do returns from individual customers as well. All returning shipments are packed in their branded cartons, free of cost.
Xpressbees is a fast-growing express courier service in India that provides shipping logistics solutions to ecommerce businesses. They have a distribution network penetrating over 20000+ pin codes in India.
They offer Same-day delivery and Next-Day Delivery (SDD and NDD) for forward and backward logistics. Their reverse logistics mechanism lets you track and follow orders in real-time with the use of a unified technology platform.
Trackon, launched in 2002, is a well-known and highly regarded shipping service provider that operates across India, with a reach of 5000+ pin codes.
Trackon offers a wide variety of services in e-Commerce logistics like express delivery, international delivery, distribution management, and reverse logistics. They handle returns very well and relay customer feedback to online sellers immediately. They also have a dedicated cell for Grievance Redressal for returns.
3.8) TCI Express
TCI Express handles reverse shipments dedicatedly. They have as many as 3000 cargo pick-up points for eCommerce shipments. This means that they can help you leverage their staff and services for efficient and timely pickup and deliveries. In addition to this, TCI Express also offers centralized tracking and packing of all returning shipments.
Aramex is a leading eCommerce logistics and shipping service provider with national and international reach. They ship to over 220 countries across the globe with a focus on order fulfillment and logistics efficiency. The company aims at assisting startups and established businesses in supply chain management, technical support, and more. They offer attractive reverse logistics solutions to eCommerce businesses on a tight budget. From pickups, quality checks, and packaging, Aramex takes care of your entire return journey.
Gati-KWE is a joint venture between Gati and Japan’s Kintetsu World Express (KWE). It offers holistic logistics solutions, in terms of a hub to hub goods movement, packing and warehousing, IT, last-mile delivery, and reverse/return pickups. However, they only offer reverse logistics as a value-added feature. They also offer other value-added items like barcoding, packaging, and labeling.
4) How to Choose the Best Reverse Logistics Company?
A streamlined supply and logistics chain is essential for the survival of an eCommerce business. And choosing a courier partner with reverse logistics services for your online business should be done after considering a couple of things. Below, we discuss the few factors that an online business entrepreneur should always consider before tying up with a shipping partner for logistics.
4.1) Shipping Costs
One of the major reasons online sellers hire courier services to take care of shipping logistics is because of the cheaper rates they provide. However, it pays to keep in mind that logistics comes with many hidden costs. So, even if your courier service provider offers lower base rates, the total expenditure on shipping can still become quite high. The cause of this is value-added items, weight discrepancies, and other extra charges. Always contact your courier service provider to ascertain if they offer reverse logistics as an add-on service.
Generally speaking, every eCommerce business aims to have as wide a reach as possible. A wider reach, whether in e-marketplaces or geographical regions means a wider audience to add to your customer base. But we always ask online business owners to see if the courier service providers they select cater to the areas their customers come from. This is even more important in the case of reverse logistics. If you look carefully, you will find that many shipping companies do not take returns from all the places they deliver to. So, if you are looking at the number of pin codes an eCommerce logistic company delivers to, you will also have to see if it accepts returns from all those places. Failing to determine this can land you in a hot mess.
4.3) Order Tracking Visibility
Tracking orders through a track and trace platform is important for both forward and backward logistics. With reverse logistics, you want to be able to track orders in real-time because the transfer of refunds to your customer cannot be initiated before the return shipment reaches the warehouse. To make sure customers remain happy and do not undergo a bad post-purchase experience, online sellers need to keep their order tracking feature transparent.
4.4) Returns Speed
A speedy return is perhaps the most coveted feature of a reverse logistics courier company. Ecommerce businesses should put as much premium on their reverse logistics as they do in their forward logistics. Really, there's no getting away from receiving returns. The only thing you can do is handle returns so well that customers don't skip a beat in the buying journey.
4.5) Specialty Reverse Logistics Services
Before finalizing a courier service provider for reverse logistics, remember to ask if they provide any special shipping services like doorstep quality checks (QCs), instant refunds, packaging, temperature-controlled and weather-proof shipping containers, etc. These services can come free or at an extra cost, but they are always a bonus. If your business deals with specific items that require such special shipping conditions, like medicine, perishable goods, etc., always ask your courier service about them well in advance.
5) Final conclusion
Throughout the entire article, we have gone on and on about the value of effective reverse logistics in an eCommerce business. And also, how logistics and courier service companies play a huge role in establishing that streamlined system. Handling reverse logistics well can be a differentiating factor for your business. After all, reverse logistics helps the product retain maximum value by cutting down on lost time and improving client service. We hope with this hand-picked list of the 10 best courier service companies for reverse logistics, your decision to pick the best reverse logistics shipping partner for eCommerce will now be a lot easier.