Berkshire Grey Introduces Reverse Logistics Automation to Solve Product Returns

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January 12, 2022

Berkshire Grey, which develops artificial intelligence-enabled robotic solutions for supply chain processes, has announced its Reverse Logistics solution, which aims to help retailers accelerate the resale of returned goods and improve labor utilization. Projections indicate that consumers will return about $120 billion of goods in the period following the holidays, which creates significant challenges and costs for retail operations.

The Reverse Logistics solution from Berkshire Grey aims to decrease markdowns by speeding up returns processing to get goods back into inventory or moved to refurbishment up to 25% faster than manual processing, the company said. The system also reduces processing costs by improving labor handling efficiency by up to 35%, it added. The system includes Berkshire Grey’s Robotic Product Sortation with Identification (RPSi) and Robotic Shuttle Put Wall (RSPW) systems, which can be specifically configured to process returns. 

The RPSi systems are used by third-party logistics (3PL) operators and other central returns processing centers to pre-sort incoming packages by brand and merchandising category prior to opening and inspecting the merchandise. THe RSPW systems can be used to rapidly sort returned products for faster put away to resell and/or refurbish. The company said both systems improve labor utilization and speed up the overall returns handling process to make returns less costly and more valuable to sellers.

“Returns processing has a significant adverse impact on the real profitability of e-commerce,” said Tom Wagner, CEO of Berkshire Grey. “As online shopping continues to grow, returns operations, while more critical than ever post-holiday season, are struggling to keep up. By applying robotic automation to optimize reverse logistics processing, e-commerce retailers and 3PLs have an opportunity to change the equation for e-commerce returns and turn a negative into a positive.”

The company said consumers are now expecting free, no-hassle returns for online purchases, especially in categories such as apparel, footwear, electronics, and luxury items. But for retailers, this comes with added cost. The average cost of an e-commerce return, regardless of item value, ranges from $20.75 to $45.25 when factoring in the costs of transportation, processing and markdowns/liquidation to resell. Berkshire Grey said to reduce the impact of these costs, retailers need to focus efforts on increasing the resale of previously purchased goods.

For more information about the company’s robotics solutions, visit the Berkshire Grey website here.

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