It’s a very common question these days: What is reverse logistics? In many different industries, reverse logistics is becoming more and more important to building brand loyalty and safeguarding the bottom line. Reverse logistic operations can be complex, but they are truly worthwhile to those enterprises who engage in them in an appropriately methodical way.
But what is reverse logistics, really, and how can you benefit from reverse logistic plans?
Reverse Logistics is About the Aftermarket
Ordinary logistics focuses on everything that happens prior to the sale and then between the sale and the point at which the customer has the product in hand. Your product, whatever it is, must be manufactured and then warehoused in preparation for final shipment, or must be distributed throughout a variety of retail channels or other businesses for position in front of the consumer.
On the other hand, the name “reverse” logistics gives us a hint about what this is all really about. It focuses on aftermarket activities: All of the potential logistical needs that your customer could have once they have had your product in their possession for some time. If you are in a high tech field, then one of these potential “needs” probably springs to mind without any effort at all.
When the Logistics “Stream” Runs in Reverse
One of the most common uses for this kind of logistical strategy is when your product has to be sent back to its point of origin in order to be serviced. This happens on a regular basis with electronic and electrical goods. While there are usually many different sources to repair a computer, for example, many appliances can only be effectively repaired by the manufacturer.
Another potential form of this sort of logistics has to do when materials need to be recycled or disposed of. The ability to reverse the direction of the logistics cycle is one reason that “ink cartridge recycling” has become so popular lately. Customers are able to have their ink cartridges refilled at a logistical cost far lower than the cost of actually buying a new ink cartridge.
More Logistical Challenges and Opportunities
Unfortunately, most enterprises are not necessarily in a position to use all the same channels for reversing their logistics that they use for the original logistical process. This area of logistics has a tendency to contribute relatively little volume to your logistics contracts, so your established network of providers might not be willing to assist you with this kind of “unusual” need.
One way to make things easier and far less expensive is to adopt reverse logistics software. Effective reverse logistics software can help take the guess work out of reversing your usual operations. Helping your nationwide team to enjoy a higher level of visibility when your items are in transit will make things simpler for your customers and will reduce exceptions for you.
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