Meeting the Reverse Logistics Challenge

Hard data and sophisticated planning are key when goods and materials start flowing upstream through the reverse supply chain


On the retail side, where returns are a perennial issue (and account for 10 to 20 percent of goods sold, on average), Phil Corwin, with UPS Supply Chain Solutions, says that retailers are becoming more sophisticated about incorporating data on returns into their assessments of the value of any give customer. A big-spending customer with a low return rate is obviously more valuable as a client than a low-spender with frequent returns. "They're assessing your profitability as a customer and tailoring their returns policies on the spot," Corwin says.

Other companies are leveraging reverse logistics to better manage their inventories. Fidelitone, for example, will take in usable returns and hold the products or parts for a client for a set number of days — 60, 90, 120, depending on the product's lifecycle — and allow that client to fulfill orders out of Fidelitone's holding warehouse using that inventory rather than producing and shipping a new unit from the factory.

Looking ahead, Click Commerce's Wodarski believes that the future of reverse logistics lies in the convergence of the planning and execution sides of the process. "Because if you make execution decisions in reverse logistics without being mindful of what the goals and planning targets are, you're not going to make the best decisions," he says. "And conversely, if planners don't have visibility to where their assets are in the field and what their status is, they're going to make bad deployment, replenishment and resourcing decisions." What's it going to take to bring those two sides of the business together? High-level executive sponsorship, says Wodarski. "You need a sponsor who can take ownership of the whole process instead of letting the two factions just lob balls across the fence at each other," he says.


Sidebarr

    Reverse Logistics Providers

    Companies offering specialized solutions and services for reverse logistics include:

    Andlor Logistics Systems — www.andlor.com

    Choice Logistics — www.choicelogistics.com

    ClearOrbit — www.clearorbit.com

    Click Commerce — www.clickcommerce.com

    ComServe Network — www.comserve-network.com

    eBoomerange — www.eboomerang.com

    Flextronics — www.flextronics.com

    Genco — www.genco.com

    Integrated Warehousing Solutions — www.irmswms.com

    Intellareturn — www.intellareturn.com

    Manhattan Associations — www.manh.com

    myRMA — www.myrma.net

    Newgistics — www.newgistics.com

    Pro Active Solutions — www.pro-activesolutions.net

    R-Logic International Pte Ltd — www.rlogic.com.sg

    Return Products Management — www.rpmrlm.com

    Solectron Global — www.solectron.com

    Supply-Chain Services Inc. — www.supply-chainservices.com

    System Design Advantage LLC — www.sdalogistics.com

    Teleplan International — www.teleplan.nl

    UPS Supply Chain Solutions — www.ups-scs.com

    USF Logistics — www.usfc.com

    USI Inc. — www.usiinc.net

    Additional Reverse Logistics Resources

    Reverse Logistics Executive Council www.rlec.org

    Reverse Logistics Association www.reverselogisticstrends.com


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