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Reverse logistics: No longer the cost of doing business
U.S. Cellular Reverse Logistics has successfully shifted the paradigm of product returns being viewed as the cost of doing business to one that recognises and maximises the value that lies within returned assets. By launching an integrated reverse business planning process, capitalising on the concept of the circular supply chain and building dimensional intelligence to ascertain total cost of return asset acquisition, U.S. Cellular has proven that through building internal intelligence, establishing visibility into its returns ecosystem and optimising its reselling processes and disintermediating its resale supply base, it can improve the velocity of returned assets, maintain optimal in-stock levels of returns for after-sales service demand and maximise asset revenue recovery. The results from executing this dimensional strategy were so significant that the U.S. Cellular C-suite better understands how a sharp focus on the reverse logistics function, within a circular supply chain, generates value by positively impacting the bottom line. This paper is a case study as to how U.S. Cellular’s reverse logistics function evolved far beyond deflection strategies to lessen losses inherent to product returns. The reverse logistics function developed a multi-faceted, cross-functionally supported strategy that delivered end-to-end visibility of returned assets, the ability to plan and, thus, predict returned asset timeliness and volume and a data-driven competency incorporating these factors to accurately calculate cost and value for dispositioning returns. The resulting paradigm changed from returns being a cost of doing business to one that seeks to maximise value in all aspects of the reverse ecosystem.
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Amy Augustine is currently the Director of Business Strategy at U.S. Cellular. Her team is responsible for building the business cases for the corporate strategic projects for U.S. Cellular along with monitoring the competitive landscape. She has interest in how 5G technology can transform the future of supply chain. From 2013 until mid-2018, she led the Reverse Logistics team that is responsible for the strategy and execution of the reverse supply chain, including planning, repair of handsets and tablets and re-commerce of handsets and accessories. Amy has held various roles within supply chain and has worked at U.S. Cellular for more than 10 years. Earlier in her career, she spent 10 years in the consulting industry working for KPMG, BearingPoint and the Revere Group. Amy is currently a member of APICS and is a part of their Research, Innovation and Strategy Committee. Amy earned her BSc in applied science from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) majoring in engineering management with a speciality in manufacturing engineering. She also earned an MBA in operations management and international business from Loyola University in Chicago and holds a CSCP certification from APICS. Amy has earned two Dynamic Leadership Awards (2016 and 2017) as one of the top 50 leaders across U.S. Cellular and the highest award given to a project (TOP Award) across the TDS enterprise in 2017 for the work done on re-commerce of excess and returned inventory.
Steven Fulghum is currently the Director of Device Logistics and Procurement at U.S. Cellular. In this role, he leads teams responsible for all aspects of logistics and distribution management, supply chain effectiveness and the strategic procurement of all cellular and connected devices, device accessories, transportation and third-party logistics services. Steven spent the first 15 years of his career within the Tier One automotive supply industry, which included an expatriation experience, as well an entrepreneurial experience as a shareholder of a successful, multi-plant injection moulding company from 1999–2004. He has been with U.S. Cellular since 2005. During the span of his career, he has held leadership positions across multiple supply chain domains, including strategic sourcing, operations and distribution management, logistics, materials management, demand planning and forecasting and manufacturing management. He is CPSM and CPM certified from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and is CSCP certified from the Association of Supply Chain Management (ASCM; formerly APICS). He earned his BA degree in business administration and his MBA (International Business) from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and his Master’s Certification in Project Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
CitationAugustine, Amy and Fulghum, Steven (2019, June 1). Reverse logistics: No longer the cost of doing business. In the Journal of Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Procurement, Volume 1, Issue 4.