Within the Reverse Supply Chain for commercial products we distinguish 3 types of return that are different due to the state of the product and the situation of the customer who returns the product. Each return type involves return cycles and the returns management process applies to all types. The decisions on how to design the process and how to execute the activities are different for each of the 3 types.
THE FUNDAMENT OF THE RETURNS MANAGEMENT PROCESS
The Reverse Supply Chain is often referred to as Reverse Logistics which is typically defined as the process of physical transportation and disposition of returned products. Returns Management also deals with the customer facing processes that are related to the physical operational processes. Increasingly important are all aspects of managing the relation with the customer in the reverse supply chain as the customer initiates the product return and expects a follow up service to it. Return-cycles do not just involve a product that is being returned, it als involves a customer who is asking for service.
The Returns Management process exists of a customer part that is typically service focussed (Returns Authorization and Returns Settlement) and an operational part that is typically cost and product focussed (Reverse Logistics and Returns Processing). All combined these activities create the Return-to-Settlement process that covers the return-cycles in the Reverse Supply Chain. Returns management is the customer centric and operational process of dealing with product returns. Returns Authorization Customers submit a return request to receive authorization for the product return (Return Material Authorization). Reverse Logistics Products are returned from the customer to the location where returns processing takes place. Returns Processing Product returns are rceived, inspected and dispositioned through various actions like restock, repair or recycling. Returns Settlement