Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!

Reverse logistics: Learn from your returns

The best practice in reverse logistics is to prevent product from coming back in the first place. Since that’s unlikely, it’s important to understand why goods are returned and learn how to capture the greatest value from the process.

Scan line personnel processes returns into a warehouse management system, which then prints a unique license plate for tracking, managing and identifying the proper disposition channel.

By Lorie King Rogers, Associate Editor
September 17, 2010

Reverse + logistics = reverse logistics. Sounds like a basic equation, one that would imply that reverse logistics is simply the supply chain moving backward. But if you ask Shibesh Banerji, principal consultant at Tompkins Associates (800-789-1257,, he will tell you that the process isn’t so simple. In fact, Banerji and his colleagues prefer the term service supply chain to represent the scope of reverse logistics.

The service supply chain starts the moment a product is sold to a consumer and lasts right up until the end of its useful life, explains Banerji. “There was a time when we would receive a returned item and dump it. Nobody really cared what happened afterward. An OEM or retailer would wash their hands of the item and move forward.”

Not anymore. That practice is changing, and there’s a lot more focus on moving backward. Suppliers and retailers are paying attention to returns whether they like it or not. “Reverse logistics is like a diet—you know it’s good for you, but it’s hard,” says Don Derewecki, assistant vice president at TranSystems (201-368- 0400,

About the Author

Lorie King Rogers
Associate Editor

Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

When DCs, plants, or any industrial facility needs more space, there are two basic options: going "out" by acquiring or building additional facilities, or "going up" by maximizing the cubic volume of existing facilities

PMMI connects end users and suppliers as they adapt to changing consumer demands.

Deployment of automated storage & retrieval (AS/RS) solutions has been delivering impressive improvements in labor or space savings within facilities for decades.

The total number of October shipments at 913,543 was flat compared to September, which was consistent with growth patterns in recent years, with 2014 up 2 percent, 2013 up 3 percent, and 2012 down 1 percent.

The secret to successful distribution center design is planning to make material handling equipment and software flexible and scalable.