What is Reverse Logistics?

Supply Chain

What is Reverse Logistics?

Reverse logistics is the process of a product essentially moving ‘backwards’ against traditional supply chain operations. Driven by the returns market, it moves a product from a customer back to the seller or manufacturer to be organised and restocked. The returns of these products could also be to have them recycled, refurbished, resold or donated.


  • A customer decides they want to return a product back to the retailer. This could be because of a fault, wrong sizing, damages or they dislike the product.
  • The customer will then drop this off at a local store or return the product using a returns label.
  • The product is then delivered to the warehousing facilities where quality checks are done to decide if the product is sellable and good enough to put back on the shelf. If not, the product will be refurbished or recycled.
  • The customer can then be refunded.

Main Reasons for Reverse Logistics

Returns Management and Returns Policies (RPP)-  Customers are more likely to purchase from your business again if you have a robust management system and returns policy set in place. Providing a seamless returns process will allow you to deal with regular customer returns, increase your brand reputation and customer loyalty and also identify opportunities that will reduce unwanted returns and control reusable assets.

Remanufacturing or Refurbishment (ROR)- Refurbishing your products is a way to prevent unnecessary wastage and losing out on money. Products can be sold and distributed again increasing the profitability of your business.

Delivery Failure- Products that have an unsuccessful delivery need to be returned and stored back in fulfilment warehouses. Reverse logistics allows this to happen under all one system.

End of Life/ Waste disposal (WAD)- Giving customers the ability to return products that have expired allows the products to be disposed of in the most environmentally friendly way.

What are the advantages of Reverse Logistics?

Reduce cost and create more value– You can reduce the costs associated with the transportation and storage of your products when they need to be returned by using Reverse Logistics. This allows you to retain the value of your business and continue a stream of income by repurposing goods that are sent back through the supply chain. Using an efficient reverse logistics process will save you money on administration, repairs, quality insurance and disposal costs.

Improve customer service/retention– In today’s competitive market and with the rise of e-commerce fulfilment, it is important to implement a correct returns management process that can reduce wait times and deliver a quick resolution for customers. A negative returns system could heavily impact the likelihood of a customer purchasing from your business again. Therefore implementing a robust system and clear returns policy is vital in maintaining a good relationship with your customers and increasing loyalty.

Allow more sustainable efforts– Implementing a way that customers can give their products which are no longer fit for use back, ensures that products can be disposed of in the most eco-friendly and sustainable way. By using more sustainable efforts you are giving your business the ability to attract more customers. Showing that you are committed to environmental issues by recycling and reusing parts of your products entices customers to purchase from your business as more and more customers are looking for actively green businesses to purchase from.

How can Elanders help?

Maintaining control over your inventory can be a challenging process, especially when handling returns. Incorporating a system that can handle your returns allows you to track receipts and solutions needed for your products, and it’s more important than ever to keep customers purchasing from your business again.

The most beneficial reverse logistics system requires a 3PL partner that can create value and manage changes within a business. Our robust and accessible system makes product returns seamless and straightforward, allowing all of your customer’s orders to be taken back to our warehouses and stored until they need to be picked and packed again by our team. We can keep your management process in sync and continue the efficiency of your supply chain operations, so you can continue focusing on building customer relationships.

At Elanders we tailor our solutions to your business’s needs and can manage all of your supply chain processes and product returns. We range in all sorts of reverse logistics solutions ranging from generic customer returns to recycling, we can also take care of selling and recovering IT assets.

Combined with our highly trained staff and the right solution we can help speed up the automation, repacking and restocking of your products. Quality checks will be done by staff on returned items which will help support product development. We also offer value-added services in reworking products such as retagging and repackaging items before being stored or sent out to be redelivered.

With our Brexit services you can save on export costs for your returns from ecommerce sales in the UK and EU by allowing Elanders to consolidate shipment to your central warehouse in the UK and/or EU and create and creating single rather than multiple customs declarations. 


Dealing with customers to build and keep their loyalty is just as important as the sales you are making as a business. Ignoring returns management is insufficient in today’s competitive industry and could cost your business the ability to gain revenue and customer satisfaction. As e-commerce fulfilment rises, prioritising Reverse Logistics and the experience you are providing to your customers allows you to exceed customer expectations and boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. Embrace returns and turn them into an opportunity to improve product offerings and maintain customer retention.