Have you heard of reverse logistics? This article highlighted by Barry Neighbors on LinkedIn talked about it. I’d served in one or two quasi-logistics roles when I was in Service, and although the concept of reverse logistics was mentioned in passing, I never heard people talking about it in depth.
Logistics has been likened to the circulatory system of the body. Analogies are good for giving mental pictures and for helping people to connect the dots. It helps if the analogies and what happens in real life resemble each other a fair bit. They can’t be exact duplicates or they won’t be analogies, but being similar in certain aspects of form or function would certainly help!
In this case, reverse logistics is analogous to the lymphatic system, which, by the way, is actually a part of the circulatory system as well! That’s right, we don’t think about the lymphatic system as much, maybe it isn’t as glamorous. It’s the same thing with reverse logistics. Be reminded that just because something isn’t as glamorous doesn’t mean it isn’t as important.
Reverse logistics is also important for reducing waste and increasing sustainability levels. There are companies such as Chem-Solv Technologies which extract useful material from chemical waste and channel them back into the market as one of their businesses. Providing whole life-cycle partnership and support to your customers improves their operational effectiveness and reduces costs for them if you’re smart enough to package your services accordingly. That means they don’t get into a situation where they buy from you, prosecute their business using your products and then get someone else to do the cleanup and recovery for them. You become the one-stop solution. Buyers would be smart if they developed a great relationship with you so that they don’t have to constantly maintain a whole large range of suppliers in case their main (or only!) supplier happens to go out of business or can’t fulfill an important shipment. The only way you can do that is to provide great customer service, demonstrate that you are in business for the long haul, and understand your buyers’ needs more and more so that you can constantly adapt and improve in order to keep on supporting them well.
Is reverse logistics an important part of your business? Ought it to be?