What is reverse logistics and what types are there?

In the world of distribution companies we often come across questions that interest us and make us think. What is reverse logistics? In an environment where traditional logistics manages the efficient flow of products from the origin to the final customer, reverse logistics moves in the opposite direction to traditional freight routes.

The integration of a logistics software has become a key factor for the effective implementation of reverse logistics. This tool makes it possible to track, manage and optimize the flow of products, simplifying the collection, sorting and recycling of returned products or excess stock.

Imagine a scenario where a product sold once is not the end of its journey, but the beginning of a new cycle. Reverse logistics takes this concept and focuses on the return of products, materials or even by-products, recognizing the value beyond the point of sale.

Definition of reverse logistics

Reverse logistics refers to the management of the collection, transportation, storage and processing of products and materials after their sale and consumption in order to process them efficiently, recover their value or minimize their impact on the environment.

Causes of reverse logistics

Key reasons for reverse logistics include returns management, waste reduction, cost savings and environmental friendliness.

Characteristics of reverse logistics

  • Product recovery: recycling and reintegrating products back into inventory.
  • Materials recycling: to decompose and reuse parts to manufacture new products.
  • Management of excess inventory: avoid wear and waste through alternative channels.
  • Hazardous waste management: safety for the responsible handling and disposal of hazardous materials.
  • Container recovery: reduce waste by reusing and recycling packaging.
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Advantages and disadvantages of winter logistics

The benefits are as follows:

Benefits of reverse logistics

  • Reduction operating costs by reusing existing products and materials.
  • Minimize impact on the environment by reducing waste and using resources efficiently.
  • Increase of customer satisfaction by offering return and recycling options.

Disadvantages of reverse logistics

Issues include returns and billing management, costs associated with return shipping and regulatory compliance.

Types of reverse logistics

Reverse logistics involves a variety of approaches that go beyond simple revenue management. These different types describe specific strategies for efficiently managing products and materials as they return through the supply chain.

From product mismanagement to excessive packaging recovery and optimization, this type of logistics demonstrates the diversity and breadth of innovative practices for resource optimization and operational sustainability.

Product returns

Manage defective or unwanted products, return them to stock or refurbish them.

Product recycling

Assembly and disassembly of products for recycling of parts in the production of new products.

Other types

This includes the management of surplus stock, the collection of hazardous waste and the recovery of packaging.

How does reverse logistics influence the supply chain?

Reverse logistics has a major impact on supply chains and is changing the way companies manage the flow of products after sale and consumption.
This is how it affects:
  • Process optimization: the integration of reverse logistics promotes the modification and optimization of existing processes in the supply chain. From receiving returned products to recovery or recycling, more efficient practices are implemented to maximize the value of recovered products.
  • Advanced inventory management: reverse logistics has an impact on dynamic inventory management. When considering reintegrating returned products or recycling materials, implement more accurate systems to track and manage these assets to reduce excess inventory and attrition.
  • Strengthen customer relationships: providing an efficient and friendly returns process can help improve the customer experience. Well-managed reverse logistics provides convenient return options, strengthens customer confidence in your brand and promotes long-term loyalty.
  • Cost and risk reduction: when implemented effectively, reverse logistics can reduce operating costs by reusing existing products and materials instead of purchasing new ones. Proper management of returned products can also reduce the risks associated with obsolescence and environmental impact.
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Reverse logistics activities in the supply chain

  • Approval and classification of returned products: the process begins with the receipt of the returned product, which must be sorted by condition. Your product may need to be repaired, reconditioned or disassembled to recycle parts.
  • Reconditioning or recycling: returned products can be repaired, cleaned or reconditioned and returned to stock. If repair is not possible, the product is disassembled and valuable materials and components are recycled.
  • Reverse supply chain management: this includes planning return shipping routes and coordinating receiving warehouses and processing centers to ensure good logistics for returned products.
  • Data analysis and continuous improvement: by analyzing data related to returns and reverse logistics processes, you can identify trends, areas for improvement and reverse supply chain optimization opportunities to increase operational efficiency.
  • Integration with suppliers and partners: successful reverse logistics requires close collaboration with suppliers and supply chain partners. Effective communication and collaboration regarding returns and materials management are critical to maximizing the value of these experiences.
These logistics affect many aspects of the supply chain, from inventory management to customer satisfaction and returns management, providing opportunities to improve operational efficiency and business sustainability.

Examples of reverse logistics in the supply chain

  • UPS Healthcare: logistics company UPS Healthcare has launched reverse logistics utilities for laboratory customers in Spain and other key European healthcare markets, including the UK, Germany, Italy and France. This utility provides a reverse logistics solution that ensures collection confirmation and visibility of urgent samples. (Source: El Mercantil).
  • DHL Supply ChainDHL Supply Chain's Zalando reverse logistics utility offers the capacity to handle more than 3.6 million items per year. A multi-level pipeline processes incoming returned items and sorts them for replacement or repair assignment. The total processing capacity of the platform is 3600 units per hour. (Source: DHL)
  • XPO Logistics: XPO Logistics, a leading global provider of transportation and logistics solutions, implemented an automated high-volume reverse logistics management solution for a high-end e-commerce client in France. The solution combines several technologies, including an advanced mechanized sorting system capable of processing up to 12 million returns per year. (Source: Interempresas.net)

These examples demonstrate how companies in the logistics industry can use reverse logistics strategies to optimize operations, reduce waste and increase efficiency while managing revenue and logistics resources.

These practices demonstrate the added value that the business logistics can provide not only improving supply chains, but also implementing innovative solutions to effectively manage reverse logistics in a variety of industries.

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