With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season come and gone, many people are now returning to their normal work and home life. That is, if you in any fields that are not retail or logistics.
After the holiday season, and especially after Christmas, many shipping services, retailers, e-retailers, and 3PLs get inundated by deluge of unwanted or ill-fitting gifts that need to be returned to their retailer of origin in a process called reverse logistics.
By simply looking at some facts and figures from this Wall Street Journal article, it is clear that the post-holiday time presents major opportunities for many 3PLs, especially those with a specialization in reverse logistics.
- 20 % of returns happen during the holiday season
- The U.S Postal Service reported handling 3.2 million returns last year during the two weeks following Christmas
- Returns policies are critical in driving purchase decisions. In a recent survey of 5,800 U.S. online shoppers, 82% said they were more likely to complete purchases if free returns via a prepaid shipping label or an in-store option were offered, according to comScore Inc., a data-tracking firm that conducted the study for UPS
- About 66% of consumers now review a retailers’ return policy before making a purchase
The opportunities inherent in reverse logistics, stems from the current e-commerce boom. As demand for online shopping grows, so the does the percentage of customers dissatisfied with their purchases. A large number of retailers and e-commerce companies are ill equipped with the growing number of returns (which is up 15% from the holiday season only two years ago).
With reverse logistical networks being an inherent part of many 3PLs to varying degrees, it makes sense that they be the natural choice for providing the service for other businesses. In fact, the necessity to switch toward more customer-centric strategies (such reducing lead times, improving planning, improving fulfillment, and improving post-sales/returns capabilities) is the focus of an article on MarketWatch.
It is in this same spirit of reverse logistical capitalization that FedEx recently announced its forthcoming acquisition of GENCO, a leading third-party logistics provider in North America that specializes in end-to-end reverse logistics.
Through GENCO’s leadership position in reverse logistics, FedEx will be able to expand its North American presence in the e-commerce market as GENCO’s reverse logistics customer base includes some of the top companies in the technology, retail, and healthcare industries in North America.
An article in SupplyChain Management Review has very interesting information concerning best practice for reverse logistics when it quotes Gary Cullen, chief operating officer of 4PRL LLC:
“A growing trend of being “cheaper and nearer” seems to fit well within the cost sensitive and eco conscious reverse logistics chain of events.
Much efficiency can be found in near-sourcing third party service providers (3PSP) who specialize in the services of redeployment, repair, reuse, recycling, reclamation and resale. This appears to be a successful business model in today’s fuel conscious and green minded environment.
A closer country allows for use of cheaper modes of transportation as well as less overall time and movement.”
Efficiency and response time are the key terms to take away when discussing reverse logistics as the problem of potential value loss arises if items are delayed for too long, especially when it involves fashion items.
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