VP Business Development EMEAA Stericylce ExpertSOLUTIONS
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The 5 essential elements of a successful product retrieval

20th Jun 2016
VP Business Development EMEAA Stericylce ExpertSOLUTIONS
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Whether the product retrieval is to protect a brand or gather intelligence, the process doesn’t just have to be fast, it also has to be precise.

When complaints or product recalls warrant the removal or withdrawal of a product from the supply chain, having a proactive product retrieval plan in place can help ensure that those affected, from the manufacturer through to distribution, retail and ultimately to the consumer, stay protected. When evaluating the most effective method for product retrieval, even if that means collecting a product from a customer’s home or at any other point along the supply chain, manufacturers should consider these five factors:

1.     Speed
In the event of a customer complaint, product recall, or a competitive situation, retrieving products as quickly as possible is imperative. Delayed responses have the potential to expose manufacturers and retailers to possible litigation, brand damage and regulatory scrutiny.  If the recall is in the serious risk category, as 91% of consumer product recalls in Q1 2016 were, according to the Stericycle Recall Index (http://www.stericycleexpertsolutions.co.uk/thought-leadership/#recall), there is even more urgency. Without a professional field team in place, many companies have to disrupt day-to-day operations and lose time and money trying to manage and coordinate retrieval logistics.

2.     Accuracy
With a company’s image and reputation on the line, accurately retrieving all affected products is vital for the integrity of the brand. If products remain on shelves, in the warehouse or in homes, a company’s liability increases along with the risk of regulatory or legal action and brand damage. To prevent lost sales on non-affected products, companies should ensure only the affected goods are removed and not all products in the same range. While navigating potentially complex regulations it is important to account for all products and maintain the integrity of a product for additional testing and analysis.  This requires a strict chain of custody and a plan to properly document, execute and complete a retrieval event.

3.     Efficiency and Effectiveness
Due to the nature of product retrievals, it’s difficult for companies to fully prepare in advance. Typically, when a product needs to be removed from the market, manufacturers have little warning and must act immediately. With a complex supply and distribution chain, it may not be financially feasible to hire full-time staff to manage retrieval possibilities, and many companies attempt to pull internal resources to manage the process. However, taking staff away from their normal work interrupts day-to-day business and can actually delay the retrieval process, resulting in higher costs. Third-party solution providers who focus on retrievals are an alternative and often more efficient method of implementing a product retrieval.

4.     Scalability
During a retrieval event, the number of units that need to be retrieved from anywhere in the world and along the supply chain can vary from one extreme to the next. Companies can experience events that require them to pick up just one product at a customer’s home or alternatively millions from retailers and distributors globally. Because retrievals are not always a part of an organisations’ day-to-day activity, it can be costly and prohibitive to hire and maintain a global field force or to require existing staff to assist. When a situation does occur, companies need the flexibility to handle any type of event anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.

5.     Quality
In any product retrieval situation a brand’s reputation is already at risk. To protect the integrity of the brand, manufacturers and retailers must ensure that representatives picking up product act as an extension of their team. It’s important that companies, particularly third parties, meet the highest quality standards and document every step of the process, from transporting and storing products with a secure chain of command, to handling subsequent product testing or product recalls in a regulatory compliant manner.

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