Efficient and Effective Returns Handling in 3PL Warehouses. Proposal of a Standardised Process based on a Multiple Case Study at DB Schenker Logistics

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Banck, Johanna
Ferguson, Elin
Returns management constitute a substantial and complex part of activities within logistics and is thereby an area with great potential for overall business improvement. One actor with an interest in improving their returns handling is DB Schenker Logistics, a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. An increase in return flows, in combination with the fact that the design of the current returns handling process varies among the customers, leads to one of Schenker’s goals being to develop and implement a standardised returns handling process. Hence, this thesis will deal with the returns handling process, with the aim to identify what components such standardised returns handling process should contain, including operational handling steps, information flows related to these steps, and planning and control of the process, as well as its organisation, formalisation, and design. During the thesis work, observations of the returns handling process have been conducted for 11 different internal Schenker cases. Together with literature research, secondary data collection, interviews, a workshop, and a benchmarking study, sufficient data was collected to answer the research questions regarding the development of a standardised returns handling process. In the finalisation of the thesis work, it could be concluded which operational steps to include in a standardised returns handling process, and which information entities to be obtained and exchanged related to these steps. Also, a set of guidelines and metrics could be identified as important ways to facilitate the planning and control of the process. Finally, a proposal of how to standardise the returns handling process could be developed, including organisation, formalisation, and design perspectives. The result can be used for implementation of new, as well as existing customers, however, adaptation to some case specific requirements may be required.
3PL, Returns Management, Returns Process, Returns Handling, Standardisation, Warehouse.
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