One of the most challenging aspects of the holiday season, particularly for retail shipping, can be the aftermath. Many purchases are often returned due to damages, wrong sizes and a variety of other reasons. To recoup losses, businesses are often able to ship the returned goods back to their suppliers for a refund or rebate.

However, the process of reverse logistics can often be tedious, time-consuming and costly. Take advantage of the following strategies to help reduce the hassle of managing your reverse logistics operations.


The most critical part of developing a successful reverse logistics plan begins with your customers. A return generally indicates a level of dissatisfaction with the product itself.

This is a prime opportunity to ensure that customers are delivered a positive experience that will bring them back again and again. To that point, make the return process as easy for your customers as possible. Offer a full refund or store credit and avoid requiring the original receipt and packaging. Taking a small hit on one return could lead to even bigger opportunities in the future.


To reduce the complexity of reverse logistics, try to consolidate your return shipments when possible. Shipping in bulk can reduce your costs in the long run. While many returns can be handled by parcel delivery, it may make more sense to combine your small packages into bulk less-than-truckload shipments.


If your business operates multiple locations that act as return origins, explore the use of return pool points. Through this strategy, each location ships returns to a single consolidation point. From there, the products are sent to your returns destination in a single shipment.

This process makes it possible for your company to reduce the number of long-haul dry van shipments needed to get the returned goods to the same point. Setting up a pool point distribution strategy can be as simple as utilizing one store location to receive and ship from, or by using a freight carrier that has available warehousing space.


The costs and time needed to manage return shipments may not always equate to a cost-effective process for some businesses.

To that point, consider these alternatives for making use of returned goods:

  • Utilize components from returned items as spare parts for making repairs
  • Sell slightly worn or out-of-season products at a discounted price
  • Donate returned goods to local nonprofit organizations as a tax-deductible contribution

Incorporating these tips into your reverse logistics strategy can help you minimize the stress on your staff and also reduce your overall transportation costs.