In a February 2018 survey, Supply Chain Management Review found that only 17% of companies have one department that is dedicated exclusively to reverse logistics. In more than half of companies (56%) it is handled by multiple departments throughout the company. Without a comprehensive reverse logistics software program, this can be a messy and cumbersome process.
In the same survey, 88% of respondents said reverse logistics was “extremely”, “very”, or “somewhat” important to the organization. Most companies understand how a streamlined process can improve customer satisfaction, reduce waste, and save money. Coordinating your reverse logistics process with the right software can dramatically improve all these areas.
1: Improve Customer Satisfaction
All the reasons for coordinating your reverse logistics process are important, but customer satisfaction is probably at the top of the list. When someone sends an item back after making a purchase, they expect prompt service, constant communication, and speedy resolution. All of this is hard to deliver when you don’t have the proper software in place.
Reverse logistics software allows you to track packages from the moment they leave the customer’s hands until you resolve it with store credit, an exchange, a warranty repair, or a refund. Along the way you can keep every member of your team informed—even if they are spread across multiple departments or locations—about the status of the return. The right software also automates customer communications, sending regular updates when something happens so they know you are processing the return as quickly as possible.
Finally, reverse logistics software makes the entire process visible to anyone and everyone in the company. If a customer contacts you to request an update, anyone can quickly find that information and answer the question.
2: Reduce Waste
Another important reason to use software in your process is to reduce the amount of waste in your reverse logistics supply chain. Without proper tracking and optimized processes, you may end up losing a significant amount of product and potential revenue. For example, if you aren’t tracking products from the point of return back onto your website or store shelves, you may lose them in a warehouse and miss the chance to resell it.
Products that can’t be resold might be eligible for return to vendor (RTV) or other disposition method, which can reduce waste that goes to landfills, but they must be tracked to ensure the right steps are taken in the right time frames. Software can help you do that, and also help you spot inconsistencies in those processes to improve.
3: Save Money
The final reason to use reverse logistics software is simply to save money. There is an up-front cost to implement software, but the cost savings are worth it. Quickly moving inventory through the returns process helps you get it back out for resale whenever possible. In-depth reporting also helps you find bottlenecks and other challenges to get even better in the future.