Managing returns is a growing concern for business leaders. With ecommerce continually increasing the volume and rate of returns and the reverse logistics costs sapping profitability, businesses are under growing pressure to retrieve every possible bit of value they can from returned items.

There are a multitude of options for how to handle returns – from return to stock, remanufacturing or liquidation to resale through a secondary channel. But the speed at which these decisions must be taken makes it difficult for leaders to be sure they are not missing opportunities. 

This is why an increasing number of businesses are looking instead to leverage cutting-edge technology in order to pinpoint these opportunities and extract the maximum possible value from every return. 

Following the numbers

Simply put, data can unlock strategic insights and inform real-time decision-making. Ideally, retailers, ecommerce sellers and others will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to decide whether it makes economic sense to process a return or to determine the optimum disposition– even before induction. 

By analyzing the available data and using analytics to dynamically evaluate a variety of market factors impacting resale potential; upstream decisions can be made that reduce touches and costs and increase net recovery.

Ultimately, aggregating the information on your returns enables you to start building the data model required to optimize your disposition decisions in real time. And once that model is built, you can start leveraging machine learning (ML) to optimize return dispositioning and eventually automate the process for even greater marginal efficiency gains. 

Such gains, however, are not the only benefit analytics can offer. In fact, though financial efficiency is important, for many businesses an equally valuable application of recovery analytics relates to saving the planet.

The circular economy

Sustainability is considered among the most urgent issues of our time. And for businesses both big and small, there is a clear mandate to become as environmentally friendly as possible. 

According to recent surveys, 62% of consumers want companies to take a stand on sustainability, while 75% of consumers will refuse to purchase a product if they find out the company supplying it supports an issue contrary to their beliefs. 

Whether it is part of a Corporate Social Responsibility program or simply a small brand looking to make an important impact, improved sustainability is of benefit to everybody. Finding more sustainable approaches for managing returns can be a tangible way to make such aspirations become real.

Through better returns management, businesses can disposition and recover items so that they stay out of landfills and garbage dumps. Analytics can help find ways to ensure items are repurposed wherever possible, ultimately reducing the carbon footprint while increasing profitability. Discover how G2 Reverse Logistics uses analytics to help you do your part to reduce the environmental impact of your brans. For information and resources check out or reach out to


Written By:

Most of Tom’s 31 years of logistics experience is at GENCO, where he was President of the company’s Reverse/Retail business and the Chief Technology Officer, a role Tom continued to hold immediately following the FedEx acquisition of GENCO. Over the past four years, Tom has served as an independent director on the boards of three privately held logistics businesses.