Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reverse Logistics at Zappos

In the case study this week, Zappos was praised for its customer service and customized warehouse and logistics system. As a Zappos customer, what I love about the website is really how easy it is to return stuff.
Easy return is the key to e-commerce, especially when it comes to shoes. There's always anxiety once order is placed: will it fit? will the color be right? will it be comfortable? The disappointment a customer experiences when the shoes arrive would keep the customer from shopping for shoes on-line. When Zappos made the return process easy, customers will not shy away from ordering multiple colors and sizes for fit and return part of them later.
Just as how the Dabbawallas return the tiffins, the return process at Zappos is also handled by UPS, who made a small video about the service here.
The return process go through similar as the forward one; the only difference is perhaps that customers drop most of the packages at UPS locations. As it says in the case study, about 25% of the orders are returned.

It is interesting then, to think about whether such process is applicable for another type of reverse logistics, recycling. The difficulty lies in the fact that the recycled products have little value to the producers. In addition, for retailers like Zappos, there's an additional process of sending the recycled products back to the producers. Or as Zappos expands from on-line retailing to managing logistics and warehouses, should they tap into the recycling business?
More about reverse logistics from Fleischmann, M, Bloemhof-Ruwaar, J.M., Dekker, R., van der Laan, E., van Nunen, J., Von Wassenhove, L.N. (1997) Quantitative Model for Reverse Logistics, A Review. European Journal of Operational Research,103,1-17. Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. Analyzing the history and understanding the present of distribution system will help to bring future developments into perspective.
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