Reverse logistics--a term used to define the action of a delivery truck moving in reverse. \r\n\r\nObviously not! How we all wish life was that simple.\r\n\r\nHaving said that, not everything is worth the complexity, but some things like reverse logistics are, simply because it has tremendous amounts of financial impact in the world of the supply chain.\r\n\r\nAccording to estimates, the market size for reverse logistics is approximately $30 Bn\u00a0and is expected to reach $50 Bn by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 10%. Lucrative, right?\r\n\r\nHowever, managing reverse logistics is no cakewalk. We are talking about situations that include handling disappointed customers, retrieving a product, shipping an item back to the hub, understanding the extent of defect or damage so on and so forth.\r\n\r\nThis is just one part of reverse logistics, and then surfaces the cost factor accompanied by resource management challenges and poor customer satisfaction. Within a short time, items under reverse logistics can transform into a parasite that feeds on an organization\u2019s profitability.\r\n\r\nIn the US alone, research firm Statista highlights that return deliveries will cost $550 Bn by 2020, 75.2% more than four years prior.\r\n\r\nThanks to advancements in supply chain and logistics technologies businesses can transform this parasitic relationship into a more symbiotic one. Here are three easy ways to effectively manage reverse logistics.\r\nControl And Visibility Of Shipments\r\nWith the growing demand for returns, customer experience cannot only be measured once a delivery is done. Businesses need to walk that extra mile and ensure a seamless returns process. This can be achieved by having complete visibility over the shipments that are being returned.\r\n\r\nTo achieve a hundred percent visibility of shipments businesses need to invest in modern delivery platforms that generate real-time updates on when a parcel was returned, who retrieved the parcel, when will it be delivered back to the hub and so on.\r\n\r\nBy constantly staying up to date with how a return is being executed, the delivery stakeholder can significantly optimize reverse logistics. This also ensures that timely and data-driven decisions are taken as and when required, thus helping businesses gain greater control over reverse logistics processes.\r\nCustomer Transparency, Personalisation, And Flexibility\r\nIt\u2019s no secret that your customer demands transparency of both deliveries and returns processes. Hence, it\u2019s imperative for businesses to embrace technologies that empower customers to know and change when a return pickup will be done, suggest where she is comfortable with returning a parcel and how will she get her payment back.\r\n\r\nWhile executing all these personalization practices, businesses should also equally focus on providing absolute transparency of the entire returns process. By getting this right, businesses can influence a customer to remain loyal to the brand.\r\nKeeping A Check On Costs\r\nToday as much as 79% of customers want free shipping of returns and almost 49% of retailers deliver on that expectation. Hence, guaranteeing free returns is rapidly becoming a competitive differentiator.\r\n\r\nHowever, one has to realize that by doing so businesses are actually making a dent on their profit margins. While businesses cannot over-look free deliveries, they can focus on other aspects of reverse logistics to save costs.\r\n\r\nEliminating manual processes can significantly reduce operational expenses as well as time. For instance, by leveraging modern logistics platforms businesses can automate task allocation, that otherwise is done manually.\r\n\r\nSuch platforms intelligently allocate tasks to pick-up executives for retrieval of products and bringing them back to the hub. This also helps scale reverse logistics processes.\r\n\r\nAn advance logistics platform with Machine Learning capabilities can help businesses get insights on why a particular product or product type is being returned frequently. These insights can help retailers plan inventory efficiently and reverse logistics processes accordingly.\r\nIn Conclusion\r\nReturns are like double-edged swords; it depends on a business whether to execute it in a way that results in customer churn or increases loyalty. There are more ways to effectively manage reverse logistics; these are the ones that can be quickly executed.\r\n\r\nIn a nutshell, a key to managing reverse logistics will greatly depend on when businesses will start digitalizing their key supply chain and logistics processes. So, how far are you on your digitalisation journey?