What is Reverse Logistics?

With online retailers reporting massive profits in the aftermath of last year’s holiday season, it is not unreasonable to suggest that returns have also likely reached major milestones in the last few months. But what happens to these goods that are relinquished? Where do they end up? How do they get there?

This is where reverse logistics (RL) comes in.Logistics Graphic

Reverse logistics is the other side of the supply chain. It describes the processes by which goods are moved back through the supply chain from end customers to distributors or manufacturers.

Some examples of RL-related activities might include:

o   Returns

o   Remanufacturing

o   Refurbishing

o   Repairs and maintenance

o   Packaging

o   Unsold goods

o   End-of-life

o   Delivery failure

While RL is a key component in any streamlined supply chain, the e-commerce revolution has solicited a great deal of interest in the concept in recent years. In fact, RL has become a business unto itself, with an increasing number of businesses today choosing to outsource their RL to third-party logistics providers (3PLs) who specialize in recovering and repurposing these goods.

This is because returns can be difficult to organize and predict. It involves a great deal of overall planning and strategy to determine how and where products will be returned and stored. For this reason, it is best left to the professionals like us with ample space and the infrastructure to efficiently manage these goods.

A robust RL strategy can benefit your company in many ways. Among them, it can reduce costs, create value, and decrease risk, while also increasing the sustainability of your business by finding new uses for disposed products through recovery, repair, and recycling. The objective is to minimize losses by recouping value, building customer loyalty, and ensuring repeat customers.

Let’s examine a few of these benefits in greater detail:

Reduced costs

Streamlining the movement of products back through the supply chains can help companies to recoup significant value from returns. Using a 3PL that employs cutting edge technology, a vast network of resources, and automated, streamlined processes can help to greatly reduce RL expenditures for your company.

Provides valuable data 

In the digital age, one of the most valuable things RL can provide an organization is product data. By collecting data on incoming returns, companies can gain a greater understanding of why customers have chosen to return a particular product, which further enables them to improve their sales strategy, product design, and/or the customer experience going forward.

Increases customer satisfaction

While one poor experience is enough to deter a customer for life, a truly great experience can equally cement brand loyalty. A 2020 article published in Digital Commerce 360 found that customers were more likely to become repeat buyers from retailers with good return policies, especially when purchasing items they were unable to try out before buying.

Increases sustainability 

A 2016 report from the University of British Columbia (UBC) found that Canadians generate approximately 725,000 tonnes of e-waste each year. Of that amount, only 20% of it is properly recycled.

RL activities such as repair, refurbishment, repackaging, and recycling can greatly reduce a company’s environmental, social, and economic impact while also increasing their profitability. They achieve this by recovering and extracting maximum value from their assets, thereby reducing harmful emissions and energy usage during the production process. 


Ready to maximize your RL strategy? Borderline Systems offers a whole array of RL and RL-adjacent services, including sortation, repackaging, inspection, and RGA/RA processing. Get in touch today to discover the many ways that we can support your business goals in 2022 and beyond!

You can reach us by phone at 905-687-4014, or send us a message through our contact page, HERE.

We’re Shepco Warehouse Services, a division of Borderline Systems Niagara Inc. … where our family of team members has been keeping your family of team members happy, since 1956.