DPD & Blue Yonder Deal Shows Importance of Reverse Logistics

AS DPD put returns-service tech in place with help of Blue Yonder, the increasingly important role of reverse logistics is brought into focus

The growing importance of the returns market is confirmed by the announcement parcel delivery giant DPD is bolstering its returns service with the help of the world’s largest supply chain software company, Blue Yonder.

Blue Yonder' Returns Management solution will provide DPD customers in the UK with access to a returns portal that is plumbed into 10,000 pickup locations.  

DPD UK is a member of Geopost, a European leader in parcel delivery and solutions for ecommerce, and part of the La Poste Groupe. The company delivers an estimated 400 million parcels a year in the UK alone.

Like all returns services, the DPD UK initiative is driven by reverse logistics. Unlike regular logistics, which moves resources from source to storage, reverse logistics moves them from customers back to the original seller or manufacturer. Returns are usually caused by misorders, and by damaged or defective goods.  

But the returns market is also playing an increasingly important role in supply chain circularity. This is especially true of subscription services, such as home broadband and on-demand TV providers.

Subscribers access such services through routers or decoders, which are mailed to them. When this hardware becomes outmoded, new iterations are sent out, and reverse logistics allows for the old hardware to be recycled. Plus, when a subscriber quits it means devices can be returned for reuse or recycling, rather than ending up in landfill.

The DPD UK announcement confirms findings from a growing number of studies charting the rise of ecommerce and the attendant rise in reverse logistics.

Rise of ecommerce driving demand for reverse logistics

A recent UPS report shows shipping volumes driven by ecommerce have risen by 30% over the past two years – a trend that it says “places the shipping and logistics sectors at a critical junction”, as omnichannel supply chains become ever-more established, following their stratospheric rise during the pandemic.

The UPS study reveals omnichannel supply chain customers demand a reliable and convenient returns service, with almost two-third (60%) of surveyed merchants saying a tenth of orders end up being returned.

Further research, by BlueYonder itself, also shows the issue of returns is one retailers and carriers are keen to resolve. The study shows that 68% of merchants across European e-commerce markets say return rates have increased in the past 12 months, while 63% confirm returns are a ‘significant’ or ‘very significant’ issue for their business. 

In terms of the issues faced by DPD UK, Blue Yonder Corporate VP Tim Robinson says it was “looking for a solution that could be a strategic differentiator for them and their retail customers”. 

He added: “We are proud to support its strategy and vision to achieve customer satisfaction, sustainability and innovation.”

Robinson is co-founder of first- and last-mile logistics tech business, Doddle, which was acquired by BlueYonder in October 2023. The deal is designed to give BlueYonder returns-management and reverse logistics capability, the company said at the time of the acquisition.

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