Product flows in today’s supply chains do not end once they have reached the customer. Many products lead a second and even third or fourth life after having accomplished their original task at their first customer. Consequently, a product may generate revenues multiple times, rather than a single time. Capturing this value requires a broadening of the supply chain perspective to include new processes, known as ‘reverse logistics’, as well as multiple interrelated usage cycles, linked by specific market interfaces. Coordinating the successive product uses is key to maximizing the value generated. In this chapter, we review the field of reverse logistics. We discuss its opportunities and its challenges and indicate potential ways for companies to master them. We highlight what makes reverse logistics different from ‘conventional’ supply chain processes, but also point out analogies, and explain how both views can be integrated into an extended supply chain concept. We illustrate our discussion with examples of reverse logistics practice at IBM.

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ERIM Report Series Research in Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Fleischmann, M., van Nunen, J., Graeve, B., & Gapp, R. (2004). Reverse Logistics – Capturing Value in the Extended Supply Chain (No. ERS-2004-091-LIS). ERIM Report Series Research in Management. Retrieved from