Reverse Logistics

Our focus is specifically on the management of retail returns and the associated activities throughout the whole supply chain.

Back of a delivery van stacked high with brown cardboard boxes

Reverse Logistics

Project description

Our highly valued co-produced interventionist research has enabled the team to make significant impacts on the practice of reverse logistics and the management of returns through engagement with retailers, logistics providers and manufacturers both in the UK and globally. Our collaborative project goes back to 2005, and in 2008 we produced the first edition of the Reverse Logistics Toolkit. We have since updated it (2018) to particularly take into account the emergence of omni-channel retailing and the implications for reverse logistics operations in retailing. Our focus is specifically on the management of retail returns and the associated activities throughout the whole supply chain. Our objectives are to enhance profitability, customer service and competitor positioning through the supply chain. As well as improving the management and efficiency of processing returns within and across organisations, we also recognise the current challenges arising out of the growth in e-commerce. The recent Covid-19 virus has highlighted new challenges and opportunities for managing customer returns in both traditional and omni-channel retail environments.

Our updated 2018 Reverse Logistics diagnostic toolkit has been created through continuous dialogue with companies in the retail, manufacturing and logistics sectors over many years. It enables organisations to self diagnose the current state of their reverse logistics operations and identifies ways in which they can improve performance in this area which has become increasingly recognised as crucial in terms of profitability, customer service and competitor positioning. By comparing the performance of an organisation against the best practice statements incorporated within the toolkit, an organisation can produce a traffic light style analysis of their current performance and then work on ways to improve. Many organisations, rather than just undertaking the diagnostic exercise on their own, have chosen to bring in the expertise of our team to work alongside them to perform a specific diagnostic analysis and to identify ways of improving their reverse logistics processes.


Reverse Logistics Impact Case Study Team

OMDS Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Cranfield School of Management

Michael Bernon

Associate Professor of Supply Chain Leadership

Sheffield Business School

Dr Jonathan Gorst

Deputy Head of the Department of Management