When most people think of the supply chain in business, they imagine the different processes that need to take place in order to get a product from the seller to the customer. This includes the purchase of raw materials by the manufacturer, the building or creating of the product, the storage of the product in a warehouse or other distribution centers, and the shipping of the product to retail stores or directly to sellers via land or air.
However, did you know that the process of returning items from customers back to sellers is an entire piece of the business supply chain in itself? This is the concept of reverse logistics, which is also sometimes referred to as return logistics.
What Is Return or Reverse Logistics?
Return or reverse logistics includes every step required to transfer a sold item back to the seller from the customer. Usually, this process only has to occur if a customer doesn’t like the item they received, a component’s missing, or the item is broken or malfunctioning.
If one of these issues is the case, the return logistics process will include either replacing the item for the customer, exchanging it for a new item, or providing a full or partial refund, depending on the terms of sale.
Some companies offer a recycling component to their business model in which customers can return used items for recycling. This would also be considered part of the reverse logistics process, as it involves returning the product from the customer to the seller; however, this type of reverse logistics would not include issuing any type of refund, exchange, or replacement item for the customer.
Some businesses opt for this type of reverse logistic plan. It’s called a closed-loop supply chain. These types of supply chains generate zero waste. Companies using closed-loop methods will reuse, recycle, or compost anything they take back from customers.
In order to keep their return logistics running smoothly, most companies will designate an entire management team to oversee this process. The responsibilities of the return logistics management team will often include the creation of company and customer guidelines regarding what kinds of items can be returned and in what condition.
Additionally, it’s the job of a return logistics management team to clarify to customers what they should expect from the returns or refund process and make this information easily accessible, which could mean displaying it on the website or even in a company’s brick-and-mortar location. In some cases, this team will also oversee customer relations and speak directly with customers regarding their returns.
The Value of Efficient Return Logistics
There are several reasons why companies need to prioritize having an efficient return logistics process. Unmanaged returns and an unclear returns policy can create chaos for a company and even cost them money and loyal customers in the long run. Let’s explore some of the distinct benefits that well-managed return logistics can provide.
No matter which section of the greater supply chain you’re focusing on, disorganization and a lack of efficient management can lead to unnecessary spending and out-of-control overhead costs.
Creating a dedicated management team for effective reverse logistics can help curb those costs and reduce the amount of money you lose on customer refunds with a comprehensive customer service team.
Generally, communication with a customer that involves the return logistics process means that the customer is unsatisfied in some way, whether it’s with the product they’ve received or with the service they’ve experienced from your company so far.
A well-managed return logistics process is an excellent opportunity to provide a helpful and streamlined return or refund process to your customer, increasing the chances that they will remain a customer in the future and recommend your business to others.
Creating a recycling program for used items can significantly reduce the waste produced by your company over time, which is especially important if your products contain components that could be toxic if improperly disposed of.
Plus, in many cases, companies can even make money back by selling certain metals and other compounds that can be retrieved from their finished goods and ensuring proper disposal of toxic materials.
How Sharetown Helps Businesses with Return Logistics
What if your business is more of a side hustle than a large company, and you don’t have the need or the capital for a dedicated return logistics team? We have the perfect solution for you. If you work for yourself selling and hauling furniture or other bulky items in your community, you can get your reverse logistics system streamlined with help from Sharetown.
Large Item Returns
Managing damaged or defective items and returns processing can be complex. Still, it’s certainly easier when items are small enough to be inexpensively shipped between customers and distribution centers. If you’re a Sharetown rep that mostly sells items large enough to need a pickup truck, your returns management might look a bit different.
Luckily, both customer and seller can streamline the returns process right from the Sharetown app. Plus, Sharetown helps individual sellers handle proper disposal of damaged or toxic items, on-site inspection of returned products, refund management, and cost-effective solutions to simplify the returns process for both sellers and customers.
When mattresses are returned by sellers, ensuring the cleanliness of the product is a key component to getting it successfully resold. Sharetown provides extensive cleaning and disinfecting services to ensure the item is as good as new for the next buyer or a streamlined disposal process if the item isn’t safe to be redistributed.
Master Your Company’s Reverse Logistics with Sharetown
Hauling and selling bulky items such as furniture and mattresses is a great way to earn some extra money on the side or even make a full-time income on your own schedule. However, supply chain management can be complex when you’re working as your own boss. Let Sharetown help you find customers in your area and learn more about how we can help you manage the reverse logistics of your furniture flipping business.