Now that the holidays are over, retailers are facing the return of products bought by customers with the best intentions (or not.) Clothing, books, entertainment media, tech gifts, gourmet foods, appliances, and nearly anything else that someone thought was “the perfect gift” are always subject to the dreaded possibility of being returned and/or exchanged for something else.

3PL reverse logistics shipping

Retailers usually feel anxious about the inevitable returns that come after the holidays. They’re costly to the company, and represent a loss to many retailers. But a 3PL company calls the post-holiday return rush something else: reverse logistics.

The Day Of The Return

It’s well-known that many customers will order multiples of a piece of clothing to figure out which one fits, and return the rest. They know that they’ll be refunded, and assume that the products will be restocked and re-sold to another customer. In some cases, they are, or may be re-sold to liquidators, eBay vendors and salvage stores such as Dirt Cheap in the south. But as multiple news outlets have reported, many returns end up going directly to landfills or burned.

After the holidays, there are so many returns that UPS calls January 2nd “National Returns Day.” The amount of returned products increases every year, leading to larger numbers of packages shipped to warehouses nationwide.

Brick-and-mortar retailers generally see about a 9% rate of product sales returned. But e-commerce retailers can see as much as 30% of their products returned.

Profiting From Returns

So what does this mean for a 3PL company? More profits, of course—if they offer what’s called Reverse Logistics. We’ve discussed this topic before in our blog, and how 3PL reverse logistics can make returns easier on both eCommerce and traditional brick-and-mortar companies.

Most companies focus their attention on the forward logistics—that is, getting products from the manufacturer and/or warehouse into the customer’s hands. While retailers sweat out returns and what to do with them, the 3PL company that offers them return logistics is simply offering another service to their retail customers.

But reverse logistics is more than just returning products. RL can help retailers:

  • Save money by keeping better track of returns and making adjustments where needed
  • Reduce waste by recycling, refurbishing, reselling and/or liquidating, or otherwise dispositioning, depending on the type of product involved
  • Improve customer retention with a good return experience, since many will purchase more later without returns
  • Recognize possible product improvements when a product is being returned more than others, so that the flaws can be analyzed and the product improved

Putting returns in the trash (as many companies reportedly do) or just back on the shelf might take care of the customer’s needs in the short term. Addressing the return process head on gives a competitive advantage as well as increase a company’s efficiency.

But offering reverse logistics as a service to help a customer company with their own customer service and dealing with returned product can go a long way in improving their business as well as profitability for a 3PL provider.

Reverse Logistics With 3PL Worldwide

Returns can be just another part of doing business, or it can be a difficulty. With reverse logistics from a 3PL provider, returns can be just as easy as getting your product to your customers.

Based in Southern California, we’re ready to help with both forward and reverse logistics for your company. Contact us today at (877) 444-0002 or use our online contact form.

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