3 Clear Types of Logistics – Inbound vs. Outbound, & Reverse

Three Types of Logistics – Inbound, Outbound, and Reverse

Logistics is crucial for business success. It ensures prompt and affordable delivery of products and services. This is essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and stiff competition in the market.

Businesses rely on efficient logistics to streamline their operations and meet customer demands. Ultimately, there are three types of logistics that companies like Launch Fulfillment deal with on a regular basis:

  • Inbound Logistics: Manages the receipt, storage, and distribution of incoming goods.
  • Outbound Logistics: Focuses on the transportation of finished products to customers.
  • Reverse Logistics: Handles returns, recycling, and disposal of goods.

Understanding these categories and their processes is essential for businesses to thrive and operate efficiently.

Let’s take a look at the three different types of logistics to determine what sets them apart from one another.

inbound logistics is manufacturing logistics

What is Inbound Logistics? A Brief Overview

Inbound logistics involves receiving and storing goods from suppliers and vendors. It oversees the movement of materials from their origin to their destination. These logistics are very common.

Here are a few key components of inbound logistics:

  • Transportation: Selecting transport methods, speeds, and carriers to move goods from vendors to their destinations.
  • Receiving: Handling materials upon arrival, including unloading and verifying quality and quantity.
  • Storing: Organizing and warehousing verified goods.
  • Inventory Management: Managing inventory, including adding raw materials, components, and ready-to-sell products to the inventory management system (IMS).
  • Reverse Logistics: Handling returns and adding goods back into the supply chain. This part of the definition can be confusing. Reverse logistics is a type of logistics that involves adding goods back into the supply chain. Therefore, people still consider it inbound logistics.

It is important for businesses to understand inbound logistics in order to deliver products on time and operate efficiently. This involves getting the materials, goods, and services needed to meet customer demands.

At Launch Fulfillment, inbound logistics is a primary logistic service we provide. We pride ourselves on the strategic partnership we have with local and foreign manufacturers that help move the supply chain along from the bottom up.

Braden DICristofano, CEO of Launch Fulfillment

inbound vs. outbound logistics

Outbound Logistics Overview

Outbound logistics involves transporting and delivering goods to customers, focusing on the demand side of supply and demand. Key activities include:

  • Order Processing: Managing customer orders from receipt to fulfillment.
  • Picking and Packing: Selecting items for customer orders, packaging them, and preparing for shipment.
  • Warehousing and Storage: Planning and organizing storage to fulfill orders quickly and accurately.
  • Outbound Transportation: Delivering orders to customers, including distribution channels, route optimization, and last-mile delivery.

Businesses need to excel in outbound logistics to ensure customers receive their orders promptly and in excellent condition. This will lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty. This will help increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Inbound vs. Outbound Logistics

Here is a clear comparison between inbound and outbound logistics:

Inbound Logistics:

    • Focus: Receiving and storing goods from suppliers.
    • Activities:
      • Sourcing and procurement
      • Transportation from suppliers
      • Receiving and quality checks
      • Warehousing and storage
      • Inventory management
    • Goal: Ensure raw materials and goods are available for production and fulfillment.


Outbound Logistics:

    • Focus: Delivering finished products to customers.
    • Activities:
      • Order processing
      • Picking and packing
      • Outbound transportation
      • Route optimization and last-mile delivery
      • Customer delivery and satisfaction
    • Goal: Ensure timely and accurate delivery of customer orders.

If you want an even clearer picture of inbound vs. outbound logistics, here’s a brief video to explain the two.

(video credit: Green Supply Chain)

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three types of logistics

Reverse Logistics

As we mentioned earlier, reverse logistics is a type of inbound logistic. It is the effective management of returns and a major part of customer service for ecommerce businesses.

Here are the key components of inbound logistics:

  • Product Inspection: Evaluating returned items for quality and condition.
  • Repair and Replacement: Fixing or replacing products as needed.
  • Cost Reduction: Minimizing expenses related to returns.

Just in case you thought reverse logistics were any less important than inbound and outbound logistics. Here are a few key stats to prove just how important they are for a successful ecommerce enterprise:

  • According to ECRloss.com: “For e-commerce businesses, the rate of returns can be as high as 30%, compared to 8-10% for brick-and-mortar stores.”
  • Citing a Coresight Research report from 2021, New Castle Systems says: “…the rate of online returns varies depending on the product category, which can range from 46.5% for fashion to 25.9% for electronics.”
  • A Databridge Market Research article states that: “…the market is growing with a CAGR of 5.3% in the forecast period of 2022 to 2029 and is expected to reach USD 954,500.37 million by 2029.”

These and many more reasons are why all 3 types of logistics: inbound, outbound, and reverse are all equally important.


FAQs related to Logistics Meaning & Different Kinds of Logistics

What is logistics?

Logistics is the process of efficiently managing goods from the point of origin to the end customer. Properly managing these goods ensures timely delivery and good condition. (Source)(Source).

What is the difference between logistics and supply chain management?

Logistics focuses specifically on the movement, storage, and flow of goods and materials within the broader supply chain. Supply chain management involves planning, obtaining materials, manufacturing, and delivering products or services to customers. (Source)

What are the main components of logistics?

The main components of logistics typically include:

  • Transportation
  • Warehousing,
  • Inventory management
  • Packaging and materials handling
  • Information systems

What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure inbound and outbound logistics?

Some common KPIs include:

  • On-time delivery rate
  • Order fulfillment cycle time
  • Inventory turnover ratio
  • Transportation costs as a percentage of sales
  • Customer return rate (for reverse logistics)

How can technology improve inbound, outbound, and reverse logistics?

Implementing technology solutions like:

  • Transportation management systems (TMS) to optimize routes and modes
  • Warehouse management systems (WMS) for inventory visibility
  • Order management systems to streamline fulfillment
  • Analytics tools to gain insights from data

All The answers

final thoughts for Salt Lake City fulfillment

Launch Fulfillment for All Three Types of Logistics

A 3PL provider is important for managing logistics for eCommerce businesses. Here are all of the services a third-party provider can offer in relation to all three types of logistics:

  • Inbound Logistics:
    • Coordination: Oversees the conveyance of products from producers, manufacturers, and sellers to storage facilities and distribution hubs.
    • Storage: Receives products and components, ensuring they are stored efficiently.
  • Outbound Logistics:
    • Transportation: Transports goods from warehouses to customers.
    • Order Fulfillment: Handles picking, packing, and shipping products to ensure timely delivery.
  • Reverse Logistics:
    • Returns Management: Manages the return of goods from customers to suppliers or warehouses.
    • Processing: Inspects, repairs, and replaces returned items.

Additional Benefits:

  • Inventory Management: Helps maintain optimal inventory levels.
  • Tracking and Reporting: Provides real-time tracking and detailed reporting services.

By leveraging a 3PL’s expertise, companies can streamline their supply chain operations, reduce costs, and enhance customer service. These processes ensure timely, cost-effective delivery of products and services, leading to improved customer satisfaction. Consider partnering with Launch Fulfillment to improve all types of logistics.

Conclusion for Different Types of Logistics

Effective logistics management is crucial for the success of eCommerce businesses. Launch Fulfillment excels in handling the three key types of logistics:

  • Inbound
  • Outbound
  • And, reverse

They ensure that they transport goods smoothly from suppliers to their modern warehouses.

For outbound logistics, Launch Fulfillment expertly manages order processing, picking, packing, and shipping, guaranteeing timely and accurate deliveries to customers.

Our expert knowledge in reverse logistics helps us implement key elements of reverse logistics such as:

  • Return process
  • Inspecting
  • Repairing
  • And replacing goods as needed.

Additionally, Launch Fulfillment offers comprehensive inventory management, real-time tracking, and detailed reporting services.

By partnering with Launch Fulfillment, businesses can optimize their supply chain operations and reduce their costs. As a result, companies who take advantage of these services end up with satisfied customers.


Ameliakling. (2024, March 28). Is logistics the same as supply chain management?. Michigan State University. https://www.michiganstateuniversityonline.com/resources/supply-chain/is-logistics-the-same-as-supply-chain-management/

Cavoulacos, M., says:, P., says:, issack A. dan A., says:, Subbanaidu. the mba.m com, says:, P. S., says:, T. V., Says:, S. M., says:, J. A., says:, R. M., says:, P. F., Says:, J. S. B., says:, B. sahoo, says:, K. R., says:, M. S., says:, V. W., says:, S., says:, K., says:, K. M., says:, A. lenin, … says:, C. (2024, June 1). Top 45 logistics interview questions and answers (2024). Career Guru99. https://career.guru99.com/top-20-logistician-interview-questions/

Definition, examples, and process. Inbound Logistics. (n.d.). https://www.inboundlogistics.com/articles/what-is-inbound-logistics/

Logistics, iDrive. (2022, February 9). Answering top google-searched transportation and Logistics questions. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/answering-top-google-searched-transportation-logistics-/

The Problems & Opportunities of E-commerce returns. ecrloss.com. (n.d.). https://www.ecrloss.com/research/buy-online-return-in-store

YouTube. (2023, September 25). What is inbound and outbound logistics?. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lichQyEvgs


Jake Tripp

Jake Tripp

Lead Content Strategist

I’m a content strategist and copywriter who specializes in 3PL content and other business services. I help brands nationwide to communicate their values and build loyal audiences.