December 12, 2018

RFID solution accelerates reverse logistics

Selling online has its slight downside: dealing with the return of shipped goods. Smartrac’s global market partner, Pinnpoint, recently introduced a new solution using Lexmark’s intelligent RFID devices (printer/MFP) that can revolutionize reverse logistics for online e-commerce distribution.

The reverse logistics market is defined by product brands, logistics providers and retailers that increasingly must deal with the return of shipped goods. In many cases, companies ship multiple product options to their customers who then make their selection and send the unwanted products back. This customer service return process option is crucial for obtaining new sales, however, this option puts pressure on the logistics of the retailer. It can create a massive return product inventory backlog as items wait to be returned to the warehouse shelves.

Drastically improving the handling of returned goods
There is, however, a better way. By providing a customized, RFID-tagged return shipping label with every outgoing shipment, a brand owner or retailer can ensure that returned goods can be checked in automatically using the appropriate reader infrastructure. Thus, they gain a comprehensive and real-time overview of all returned goods, as well as a reduction in labor hours and associated costs. In addition, the products can go back into inventory much more quickly, making them available for sale again sooner than with older methods.

To achieve these benefits, Pinnpoint, a Sweden-based logistics solutions specialist, provides off-the-shelf labels for use in Lexmark’s new RFID-enabled devices, as well as offering a full solution consisting of software and integration services. The labels - typically sheets of A4, A5 or customized formats - embedded with RFID tags from Smartrac, are designed to be affixed to cartons or shipping containers being shipped to a customer.

Print ship return RFID
Customers can install the laser printer in the shipping department that can easily print labels and forms on demand, in a duplex manner, in black and white or in color, while encoding Smartrac RAIN RFID tags that are a perfect match due to their size and cost. "

Pinnpoint’s off-the-shelf stock product, Print Ship & Return RFID duplex-printed label, offers both an outgoing shipping label and RFID-encoded return label with a full-size packing list in both A4 and letter size formats.

Pinnpoint currently has several pilots underway with companies employing a Lexmark RFID printer/MFP with Pinnpoint labels with embedded Smartrac inlays. The logistics solution currently uses the ShortDipole, a retail-, supply chain- and industry-optimized tag that offers excellent global performance. Smartrac's ShortDipole offers impressive read range and speed on lower detuning materials like cardboard and plastic.

On-demand printing and encoding
There is a lot of potential in Pinnpoint’s solution. Customers can install the laser printer in the shipping department that can easily print labels and forms on demand, in a duplex manner, in black and white or in color, while encoding Smartrac RAIN RFID tags that are a perfect match due to their size and cost. In that way, customized shipping labels with an encoded return label can now be produced at a very reasonable price. So, it looks like online e-commerce could get a lot more frictionless for the warehouse and distribution environment!

Complete reverse logistic solution
How it works
At the heart of Pinnpoint’s solution, there is a high-performance color laser printer from Lexmark that includes an RFID encoder. The Lexmark CS725R printer and CX725R MFP provide simultaneous high-resolution printing and UHF programming of RFID tags on the Pinnpoint RFID-enabled Print Ship & Return RFID label media. Basically, the printer has two media trays that are separated by a UHF encoding unit. The first/top tray contains non-RFID media (such as other Pinnpoint label media or plain paper), while the third/lower tray contains media with integrated ShortDipole tags. Leveraging this configuration, Pinnpoint’s software creates an all-in-one shipping label, RFID-enabled return label and a full-size packing list duplex-printed media sheet that is ideal for any shipper with a return/reverse logistics offering.


Reverse logistic flowchart

For details of Pinnpoint’s solution with Lexmark’s RFID enabled color laser printer, please check out their website.

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