RLA News & Views

Why We Should Worry About Returns

By Cathy Roberson, Reverse Logistics Association

October 20, 2021

Why We Should Worry About Returns

“Reverse logistics is nasty,” Tim Brown, the managing director of the Supply Chain and Logistics Institute at Georgia Tech said in an article from The Atlantic.

It’s nasty because there is so much about reverse logistics that we just don’t know – The data and analysis are not readily available.

We’ve benefited, up to a certain point, from individual companies and other associations that have conducted their own research studies to try to address certain parts of the reverse logistics market. But we are not getting the full picture - What happens once a retailer or manufacturer receives a return is part of what Tony Sciarrotta, Executive Director of the Reverse Logistics Association (RLA) describes as the “dark side” meaning what happens to received returns is murky– what to do with them, how to measure, monitor or track or in a worst case scenario, returns could just be swept under the table and ignored which means businesses eat the full costs of returns.

The RLA is looking to address this concern. The RLA is the only authoritative body for best practices related to reverse logistics and is a member-driven, global trade association whose goal is to educate and inform reverse logistics professionals globally and be the voice of the reverse industry.

To start, the RLA is building a quarterly returns index that will measure the growth in volumes and costs of returns by industry as well as by type of provider – retailer, manufacturer or service provider.

Overtime, we will build out the index to also serve as a benchmark to help businesses determine if their returns costs and/or units are too high based on their type and industry.

But the Returns Index can only be as successful as the number of responses we receive. Help us help you better manage your returns by taking a minute to answer just a few questions that form the basis of the index: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TJ3M983

Fill out your contact info at the end of the survey to receive the white paper and you will also be entered into a drawing to WIN: a FitBit Versa 2 watch or a Kyocera DuraForce Pro phone.  *All individual information shared will be kept confidential.

Cathy Roberson

Cathy has over 20 years within the supply chain market including eleven years with UPS where she spent most of her time on competitive and market analysis for the Supply Chain Solutions subsidiary. After UPS, Cathy spent several years with various supply chain consulting firms focusing on market research before starting her own supply chain market research firm, Logistics Trends & Insights. Prior to UPS, Cathy worked at an e-commerce consulting start-up and at several libraries as a reference librarian. Cathy also writes for Air Cargo World magazine and other publications and is a frequent speaker at various supply chain conferences.