Reverse logistics is a term that refers to all the procedures involved in product returns or any other process that reverses the supply chain of goods from manufacturer/retailer/supplier to customer, so that it goes from customer back to manufacturer/retailer/supplier.

A longer definition of reverse logistics from Wikipedia is this:

Reverse logistics “… is the process of moving goods from their typical final destination for the purpose of capturing value, or proper disposal. Remanufacturing and refurbishing activities also may be included in the definition of reverse logistics…Normally, logistics deal with events that bring the product towards the customer. In the case of reverse logistics, the resource goes at least one step back in the supply chain. For instance, goods move from the customer to the distributor or to the manufacturer., including repairs and maintenance. It is running the products in reverse through the supply chain to get them back to their point of origin.”

Why do reverse logistics matter? Implementing an efficient and customer-centric reverse logistics process translates to improved customer service and response times. This means that your customers are happy, they feel like they are being heard and they are more inclined to buy from you again.

Customers and the returns process. A customer who receives a product that is defective or that does not fit the bill (e.g., it is the wrong size, the wrong color, or maybe they simply changed their mind) will want to return that product. There needs to be a clear process in place for the customer to return it to the company after the sale, and the company will need to have a procedure in place for organizing the shipping of the item back to the warehouse.

Reverse logistics is another name for fulfillment. Reverse logistics is as much a part of the fulfillment services process as are logistics in the opposite direction. With the best fulfillment services companies, the specific steps of the reverse logistics process will depend entirely on the customer’s wishes, on the nature of the specific goods being returned and on the reasons behind the return.

Depending on the item and the nature of the issue, any one or more of these things may be part of the reverse logistics process:

  • An item may require repair
  • An item may require replacement
  • An item may be returned to stock for resale
  • An item may need to be tested
  • An item may be sent back to the client in bulk along with other returned goods
  • An item or kit may need to be disassembled

Keeping customers satisfied with your reverse logistics process. All of the steps involved in returns need to be clearly laid out in advance so that each step can be followed just as efficiently as when the original purchase was made. When it comes to customer service and satisfaction, it is important to remember that reverse logistics are just as important as logistics in shipping items to a customer in the first place.

Once a customer contacts a company to identify that there is a problem with a defective or unsatisfactory item, there should not be any hesitation about the correct procedure in handling the situation and getting the item shipped back to the warehouse. Prompt action and a clear-cut reverse logistics process is the best way to keep the customer satisfied and increase the chance of future orders.