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Distinguished University Professor Jim Stock Talks “Seven Sins of Reverse Logistics”

Tampa, FL (October 24, 2012) — Every year, consumers in the United States return enough products to total a greater dollar value than what 66 percent of countries in the world have as their GDPs.

Jim Stock

That puts USF Marketing Professor Jim Stock's knowledge in high demand. As one of the leading authorities on reverse logistics, Stock has looked at how companies can improve their cost margins, increase sustainability, and make customers happy while doing that.

Stock, a 23-year member of the Muma College of Business Faculty, was named one of two Distinguished University Professors for 2012. The high honor was awarded as a result of his service to USF, the high level of his scholarship and his international reputation in the field of logistics, spoke to USF colleagues and students September 27 about the "Seven Deadly Sins" of reverse logistics.

Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem introduced Stock's presentation, saying that while he sometimes struggles just to come up with a new research idea, Stock had managed to create an entire new field of study. Stock's reputation in the field has him presenting and speaking all over the world, Limayem noted.

"His book on reverse logistics is referred to as the bible of reverse logistics," Limayem said. "When I call Jim, my first question is 'where are you now?' .... Dr. Stock is really a dean's dream."

Recently, Stock spoke to an audience of faculty and students about common pitfalls in company thinking regarding reverse logistics.

Companies often make the mistake of thinking that product returns are unimportant, he said, when in fact they can determine the profitability of a company. For instance, Victoria's Secret gets 80 percent of the product value from returns, whereas competitors get 60 percent or less. That creates a competitive advantage that many companies are missing out on, he said.

Stock also spoke about the importance of best practices in sustainability and employee training. Too often, companies expect informal training to yield good results, he said.

"What does informal look like? 'Here's a book, go read it," Stock said.

That kind of wishful corporate thinking sometimes expects product returns to work out without effort in a profitable way, he said -- which rarely ends up that way.

"It's not like a fine wine that ages well," Stock said.

While making the most out of reverse logistics does require effort, some fixes are quickly implementable. For instance, boxes with dimensions of 8 in. x 8 in. x 10 in., 16 in. x 10 in. x 4 in., and 8 in. x 5 in. x 16 in. all have the same volume, but the first box requires the least amount of material.

"Some of the solutions are pretty simple," Stock said. "They don't have to be rocket science."

Reverse logistics is a field with clear implications for business practices, Stock noted. However, it's one that many companies have yet to improve upon.

"Why not get money from something that's sitting right in front of you?" Stock asked. "But, product returns are not exciting to a lot of people."