Logistics flow in two directions. Typically, the logistics process involves moving goods from the production facility to a distribution warehouse to an outlet to a consumer. However, in the case of businesses like retailers, goods can also flow back the other way. Reverse logistics deals with returns and other types of backwards transactions.
When Reverse Logistics Comes Into Play
The most obvious example of when a company would need a reverse logistics system is to handle customer returns. Since it is impractical to have those returns build up at a store and economically unwise to simply throw the items out, a reverse logistics process collects those items and brings them to the point in the supply chain where they can be refurbished, resold, donated or otherwise have some portion of their value salvaged. Reverse logistics also covers when outlets need to return unsold merchandise and also includes handling goods that are damaged in shipment earlier in the supply chain long before they ever reach a consumer’s hands.
The Reverse Supply Chain
Reverse logistics involves many of the same tools, services and practices as traditional logistics — but backwards. Goods that get returned to the store need to be transported back to the warehouse. Once in the warehouse, they need to be sorted to determine if they are ready to be resold, in condition to be refurbished, or should just be sent to a salvage operation. At the same time, your warehouse has to track the item to ensure that it is properly accounted for. With pure e-commerce operations where returns are always shipped back, customer service comes into play as well since the reverse logistics operation is the one that handles tracking the return and authorizing the refund of the customer’s money.
The challenge in reverse logistics is that most companies are set up to have their supply chains run in only one direction. For instance, an e-commerce warehouse might be set up to accept large, bulk shipments and to have its fulfillment department send out smaller direct-to-consumer packages. A return, though, is too small for the receiving department and has no place in the fulfillment department. This is where either a reverse logistics consultant or a 3PL with reverse capabilities can add value.
Clark & Reverse Logistics
Clark Logistic Services offers a full range of reverse logistics in St Louis. Whether a company needs consulting to optimize its own system or wants to outsource the entire process, Clark can help. With warehouses in centrally-located St. Louis, Clark’s reverse logistics also offer faster turnaround times for greater efficiency and faster handling of consumer returns.
To learn more about how Clark Logistic Services can solve your company’s reverse logistics challenges, fill out the form on this page. A member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.