Reverse Logistics Roundup

ReturnCentral releases wireless offering, Newgistics touts success of consumer returns solution

Tempe, AZ  January 16, 2003  Reverse logistics solution provider ReturnCentral this week rolled out new returns management software designed for use on personal digital assistants (PDAs), while reverse logistics service provider Newgistics touted the success of its own solution at The Spiegel Group retail companies.

Pittsburgh-based ReturnCentral said its ReturnMatrix Wireless returns management software product will work on many of the most popular PDA operating systems such as Palm OS, Pocket PC and Symbian OS.

The wireless solution offers all the functionality of the provider's Web-based returns management software, including rules-based authorization, transportation management, disposition optimization and reporting capabilities. Armed with the handheld technology, users will now able to process returns at various points in the reverse supply chain, from the retail shelf to the loading dock or the warehouse, according to ReturnCentral.

The system can use existing wireless infrastructures, or ReturnMatrix Wireless is capable of integration utilizing the 802.11b communication protocol.

David Hommrich, CEO of ReturnCentral, said the new solution should help companies that process returns to improve their productivity. "Whether our clients are processing returns at a returns center, a warehouse or in the field, they now have the flexibility to manage returns either from a desktop station or remotely, essentially anywhere returns are processed," Hommrich said.

Meanwhile, Newgistics this week reported high usage levels for its own solution among consumers returning products purchased from Spiegel Group companies, which include Eddie Bauer, Spiegel and Newport News.

With Newgistics' SmartLabel service (see related story), customers receive a prepaid, preaddressed return-shipping label with their merchandise. Customers place the SmartLabel on the return package and drop the package anywhere in the U.S. Postal Service system. SmartLabel's barcode links it to the customer's order summary and provides visibility to The Spiegel Group early in the return process, enabling effective resource management.

Austin, Texas-based Newgistics reported that an analysis of year-end customer preference results for the SmartLabel return option found that 77 percent of customers who returned merchandise chose to use the provider's solution.

"SmartLabel makes returns more convenient for customers, enhancing the overall shopping experience," said Rich Lauer, vice president of operations for The Spiegel Group. "Obviously, our customers have responded well to the service. And we not only improve overall customer satisfaction with SmartLabel, but also benefit from speed of information and cost savings."

iSource Business has included reverse logistics in Version 4.0 of its Global Enabled Supply and Demand Chain Map under Customer Relationship Management. Version 5.0 of the Map will appear with the February 2003 issue of iSource Business.