If you’re in the last-mile delivery business then you know how important it is to optimize each step in the process to keep costs down. The combination of multiple stops and potentially smaller order sizes can create significant inefficiencies compared to a more traditional logistics model where items are shipped in large truckload quantities to a warehouse or a select few locations. 

Reverse Logistics Explained

Standard last-mile logistics involves moving goods from one store or warehouse to the consumer. Reverse logistics is—you guessed it—moving goods in the opposite direction. An example would be a delivery driver picking up a return from a customer and taking it back to restock or throw out. Or, a more routine example for certain companies like a water or milk delivery service, it includes regularly picking up empty bottles from a customer.

Why Reverse Logistics Is Important 

There are many different reasons that a delivery driver may have to transport goods back to where they came from, and these return trips need to be considered in your overall delivery cost equation as well as their impact on the customer experience. Planned returns, such as picking up empty milk bottles, are easier to manage with the right kind of software–such as our integrated eCommerce & Delivery software which gives drivers built-in options to pick up bottle returns. It’s the unplanned returns that are more difficult and can add significant costs from the extra time and fuel. For businesses delivering perishable goods, the cost can be even greater if a return means the product won’t be able to be resold, and instead, will need to be disposed of. 

Minimizing unplanned returns, and optimizing how they are managed when they do occur, should be a key part of any delivery strategy. While you likely can’t bring returns down to zero, you can control the number of certain returns, including having to return to a location because of failed delivery attempts. With our delivery management software, you automatically send out SMS alerts the moment an order goes out for delivery, including sending the customer a tracking link, and an always-updated ETA so that customers know when they need to be home. In turn, customers can reply with a text message about needing to change the delivery time. This way, if there needs to be a change, this gives you the chance to correct it before you deliver, rather than having to make a return trip. 

It’s important to remember that all returns, whether planned or unplanned, are part of the overall customer experience. An incorrect order doesn’t have to mean a lost customer if the return is handled properly. That’s why it’s vital to create a strategy for handling returns promptly and efficiently, and include methods for communicating with customers and your drivers.

How To Optimize Reverse Logistics

To start, of course, you’ve got to enlist the help of the right cloud-based delivery management tech. But, it has to be the right one for your business. If you’re a subscription-based business like farm or CSA, and your drivers have a very similar route every time they deliver, you’re going to want subscription delivery software with purpose-built features for returns, last-minute order changes, and box, bag, or bottle returns–all synced over the cloud in real-time from your driver’s mobile phones to your office. Those features, and much more, are built into our Delivery Biz Pro software

If on the other hand, you operate a restaurant or shop, and it’s all about on-demand deliveries that are less predictable, you’ll want to look into our flagship last-mile delivery software: it has the ultimate route optimization tech, that takes in hundreds of inputs from traffic to weather to added or subtracted stops to make your routes extremely efficient. It’s also got a suite of customizable alerts to keep your customers up-to-date so that they always know where their order is, plus customers, can choose proof of delivery and ask the driver to take a photo of the package (especially if it’s being delivered contact-free), so that everyone is on the same page and any mistakes can be immediately corrected. 

Find Out More About How GetSwift Can Help You With Reverse Logistics

If you’re looking for a comprehensive last-mile delivery software that can help you optimize your delivery business. It offers features such as automatic dispatching, route optimization, real-time driver tracking, customer alerts, and proof of delivery — and everything can be accessed from our user-friendly mobile app. 

Are you interested in learning more about how our delivery software can help you minimize and manage returns? Contact us today to schedule a free demo.


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