Reverse logistics is the process of returning goods back up the supply chain to recapture value (reuse, recycling, repair or disposal). With the pressing need to hit global net zero targets, such services are vitally important for helping create circular economies.
But during the holiday season, reverse logistics services see a massive spike in activity. In the era of one-click purchases and money-back guarantees, consumers can shop impulsively, in the knowledge there’s nothing to lose if they change their minds – or if the recipient of the hastily bought gift is less than impressed with it!
The following companies are among the leaders when it comes to offering reverse logistics and returns services.
CEO: Rajesh Subramaniam
Sending a package back needs to be straightforward, believes FedEx. “That means providing clear, no-nonsense steps for our customers,” it says, and to that end the company created FedEx Global Returns. Of this service it says: “We want international returns to be a straightforward solution for businesses and an easy process for their customers. We designed FedEx Global Returns to provide clear guidance on creating labels, preparing shipments, and clearing customs.
Using the service, customers can: link returns to the original shipment; get expert guidance from FedEx team members; and manage returns across more than 200 countries and territories.
President (Europe): Susanne Klingler-Werner
Logistics multinational UPS is set to become a major reverse logistics player following its recent buyout of PayPal’s Happy Returns, the US software and reverse logistics company that enables frictionless, no-box, no-label returns for merchants and consumers.
Happy Returns, which has around 800 merchant customers, allows users to access a returns portal, and to make a box-free return at the most convenient location and have their item shipped, sorted and returned to the merchant.
The service is designed to reduce the cost of e-commerce and create a more efficient, sustainable supply chain.
“Joining the UPS team allows us to harness the power of the UPS network to transform the returns industry,” said Happy Returns CEO and co-founder David Sobie.
CEO: Stefan Paul
Kuehne+Nagel says that delivering customers’ goods – especially all-pervasive consumer electronics – “is only part of the puzzle”. In addition to order fulfilment and inventory management Kuehne+Nagel offers reverse logistics, which it says “is another crucial aspect that can have an impact on your margins”. It adds: “Through streamlined processes, you can reduce costs and drive better customer satisfaction. We offer comprehensive support for reverse logistics, to take the pressure off your organisation.”
04 DB Schenker
CEO: Jochen Thewes
DB Schenker is a German logistics company, and a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company. It is responsible for land, sea, and air transport and contract logistics. Globally it has around 76,000 employees in 750 locations, and warehouses across 50 countries.
The company recently launched its new Circular Economy Logistics product line, bundling its experience in reverse operations and investing in the future of returns, repairs and refurbishment of electronic devices.
“This underlines our ambition to excel in modular reverse management operations and to provide a one-stop-shop for our customers,” the company says.
CEO: Mathieu Friedberg
CEVA has 750 warehouses worldwide, and offers end-to-end supply chain solutions. At CEVA returns centres, the company says that over 90% of items “are processed within 24 hours and are ready for shipment to consumer”. In addition, it adds that 95% of processed items are “graded to sellable condition and are ready for re-selling, and we offer additional salvage services when needed”. Unrecoverable items, meanwhile, are sent to secondary markets or recycled.
It also handles first mile, as well as transport of returned items to its scalable fulfilment and returns centres, covering more than 40 countries across Europe
CEO: Jens Bjørn Andersen
DSV has become a world-leading provider and manager of supply chain solutions, and sees reverse logistics as a strategic area for growth. To complement its reverse logistics offering in the technology sector, the company has entered into a strategic alliance with Hong Kong-based company, Spread Logistics.
Working closely together, the two companies now pick up faulty consumer electronics at origin, do failure analyses and – if need be – return them to the original manufacturer in mainland China. “The customer gains visibility of all return materials in the supply chain and can make data-based decisions on the reuse, repair, disposal or even redesign of its products,” it says.
CEO: Mario Harik
XPO is a leading innovator of transport services in Europe, serving an estimated 48,000 customers across 554 locations.
XPO offers a streamlined reverse logistics solutions that, it says, “improves customer service, increases customer loyalty and retention, and maximises the value of returned goods”. It adds that its “technology-focused approach is backed by years of experience managing return for clients across the globe”.
In total, XPO processes more than 170 million returns annually, with these peaking during the holiday season.
France-based Geodis Geodis is a global freight management and logistics provider. It manages sea and air cargo across five continents.
The company allows customers to optimise reverse logistics, by offering a “proven returns model and international network”. It says that it “designs reverse flows to protect both your profits and the shopper experience”.
Its reverse logistics and returns service includes: product returns management; collection at customer site; sorting, grading, refurbishing, & repair management; omnichannel remarketing; and analytics to optimise product recovery.
CEO: David Bozeman
With around 100K customers in 150 countries across six continents, US-based CH Robinson is one of the world's largest reverse logistics companies. Its services in this area are designed to help businesses minimise waste and cut down on inefficiencies.
In the weeks following the holiday period, the company’s reverse logistics expertise helps businesses maintain control over the reverse flow of items, by offering comprehensive reporting, and smart solutions built on a network of 85,000 contract carriers, through a multimodal transportation management system.
10 Nippon Yusen
CEO: Hiroyuki Okamoto
Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen is owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation. Alongside its main shipping operations, the company provides end-to-end logistics solutions. Now based in Tokyo, it owns and operates 800 shipping vessels, making it one of the world's largest shipping firms.
Yusen has developed an end-to-end reverse logistics program that provides a system for managing product returns, allowing customers “to recoup revenue while limiting environmental impacts, including a zero-landfill solution”, it says. “Our expert management of products’ aftermarket lifecycle ensures the maximum recovery value for reused goods and that recycling is handled responsibly.”