Reverse Logistics: Handling Online Vehicle Returns and Recalls

Semi truck hauls automobiles across the country.

It’s 2020 and, understandably, customers demand online options.

Last month, the United States Department of Commerce reported that there was a record-breaking number of online sales in Q4 2019, at about $187.3 billion. Now that e-commerce is simply a part of everyday life, online sales no longer simply revolve around straightforward consumer products like computers, smart phones and furniture. This trend is beginning to impact the automobile industry, as well.

But just as customers go online instead of a return center for product returns — often to take back a phone that’s broken or a couch that doesn’t quite fit auto-industry customers want a return process for online vehicle purchases. 

This is where reverse logistics – a complete reverse supply chain dedicated to the reverse flow of products and materials – comes into play. The Reverse Logistics Association even defines it as “all activity associated with a product/service after the point of sale” — a definition that certainly encompasses auto purchases.

It’s all about transparency, speed and efficiency

Recalls are a giant factor when it comes to returns in the auto industry. Inevitably, these recalls cause reverberations throughout the entire supply chain network. Many times, a return or trade-in vehicle is located halfway across the country from where it must end up. Dealers and online retailers often face significant challenges with logistics and supply chain management in these scenarios, particularly in getting the vehicles back into their possession in a timely fashion.

In a case of reverse logistics, with a recall or return, transparency, speed and efficiency are all crucial and “can make the difference in restoring the company’s profits, brand and reputation and mitigating its legal liability.”

Dealers can solve return or trade-in issues related to mobility and speed-to-market with a straightforward and seamless reverse logistics process. A smooth transfer of possession helps guarantee the customer is left with a positive experience – even if the initial experience was challenging. And because customers expect convenience in addition to a transparent, fast and efficient process, ACERTUS offers one single source for all logistics services and returns management, taking care of both vehicle drop offs and trade-ins.

With customers until the final mile
In addition to seamless reverse logistics operations, a service like our vehicle home delivery can help provide a more premium trade-in experience to online customers.

Through the ACERTUS home-delivery process, a brand-new vehicle is delivered to the consumer’s home and, simultaneously, the trade-in vehicle is collected by a carrier or driver. Once the trade-in has been picked up, it’s taken to a storage hub for any necessary reconditioning services, so it can get back to the dealer’s lot and potentially prepped for a secondary market. With such a hub-and-spoke model incorporated into our reverse logistics process, dealers get their vehicles back into inventory quickly and efficiently.

All in all, these reverse logistics operations save both the end customer and the retailer valuable time, meaning the returns process results in the highest-possible customer satisfaction and customer retention.

Choosing a reverse logistics solution
Finding the best partner to provide reverse logistics – especially with a strong level of transparency, speed and efficiency – can prove difficult.

More often than not, companies who do vehicle logistics management focus solely on car hauler services. But this method doesn’t work for retailers who need a partner that offers a fast and efficient reverse logistics program and strong inventory management. At ACERTUS, our 55 secure storage and distribution centers offer warehousing and reconditioning services, and combined with our vehicle home-delivery options, provide reverse logistics solutions throughout a vehicle’s entire lifecycle. These services offer ideal solutions for both dealers and retailers.

And because ACERTUS values customer loyalty and asset protection, its wide network of carriers and drivers, asset protection and increased visibility all ensure that vehicles will be properly cared for and delivered to their final destinations on time. 

For more details on ACERTUS and our reverse logistics system, as well as related information on vehicle home delivery and other services, visit To connect with one of our team members, contact us here or call us at 855-ACERTUS (855-223-7887).

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