RL Magazine
Edition 45
Returning Thoughts: Reverse Logistics Software Survey Highlights
by Paul Rupnow

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If you have been considering purchasing, upgrading or modifying your Reverse Logistics Software, some excellent information is available to help you with your decision process. Preliminary results for the survey were recently shared with the attendees of the RLA Reverse Logistics Association conference in Las Vegas. The survey is: “Reverse Logistics Software Usage Trends and Issues - An Empirical Study” by Professor Haozhe Chen, Ph.D. and Gary Gammon, MBA Student at the College of Business at East Carolina University. Dr. Chen is a member of the RLA and the RLA Software Solutions Committee.

Some partial highlights of the survey are outlined below:

Reverse Logistics Software Users Surveyed
Of the preliminary 128 responses received, 86 responses were from Reverse Logistics software customers. Of those 86 users it is interesting to note:
  • Have a Reverse Logistics Department: 49%
  • Have a Top Executive in charge of Reverse Logistics: 34%

It is particularly interesting to see such a large percentage of Top Level executives now in charge of Reverse Logistics. This is certainly a very positive change from several years ago. This seems to indicate that many companies are better understanding Reverse Logistics and the importance and opportunity of managing it well for an organization.

Top 5 Reverse Logistics Software Attributes Required
The users Top 5 requirements when selecting Reverse Logistics software are as follows:
  1. Compatibility with the company’s other logistics system
  2. User interface simplicity or friendliness
  3. Technology advantage over competing software (unique features, etc)
  4. Ability to help user company improve its customer service
  5. Ability to provide timely and sufficient RL information

Compatibility with other systems was by far the most important attribute, ranking well above all other selections. This is understandable since the handling and managing of product returns impacts so many areas of the organization, but most importantly the financial related impact of return receipts, customer credits or shipments of replacement items and of course the effective inventory management of the returned goods.

Sources of Software used to manage Reverse Logistics
The Reverse Logistics software users are still using a variety of solutions to solve their requirements:
  • Use forward logistics software applications to handle Reverse Logistics: 20%
  • Developed Reverse Logistics software applications in house: 28%
  • Purchased Reverse Logistics software applications off the shelf without customization: 21%
  • Purchased Reverse Logistics software applications off the shelf with lots of customization: 31%

Top 5 Reverse Logistics Software Results
Companies use Reverse Logistics Software to help them be more effective in the following areas:
  1. Reduce documentation and credit processing
  2. Improve asset recovery
  3. Reduce customer service costs
  4. Improve asset utilization and rationalization
  5. Reduce freight, receiving, handling, and storage

Overall Effectiveness of Reverse Logistics Software
It was found that end-user involvement in the development and implementation stages has the strongest relationship with Reverse Logistics software effectiveness.

Additionally, in terms of sources of Reverse Logistics software:
  • The groups that purchased customized software have the highest effectiveness
  • The groups that used forward logistics software have the lowest effectiveness

Hopefully the survey results above will help you achieve a higher degree of success for your Reverse Logistics Software improvements or implementation. As a final note, the survey report also shares a quote of software wisdom for us all from David Raab in Information Magazine:

“Selecting the right software cannot guarantee the success of a project, but picking the wrong system can ensure failure.”
Paul Rupnow - Director, Reverse Logistics Systems, Andlor Logistics Systems Inc.

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