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Intermec Research Shows Distribution Center Managers are Unprepared for Costly Post-Holiday Returns

According to a study recently conducted by Intermec, Inc. (NYSE:IN), nearly two-thirds of businesses (61%) surveyed in North America and Europe recognize that the post-holiday period represents the most challenging time of the year due to the high numbers of returns. Yet despite this, more than half (52%) of distribution center managers admit they don’t have the appropriate processes and tools in place to determine if returned goods should be discarded, returned to vendor or moved quickly back into inventory.

The survey of 250 supply chain and distribution center managers in North America, UK, France and Germany, also revealed:

Adoption of ‘reverse logistics’ in the supply chain:

  • 44 percent of distribution center managers admit that managing returned goods is a pain point within the business.
  • Nearly 60 percent (57%) of distribution center managers experienced challenges when managing returned goods last year and have started to identify changes needed to get returned stock back into the supply chain as soon as possible.
  • To combat this increasing strain of returned goods and minimize the impact of the holiday season to the bottom line, 60 percent of distribution center managers are turning to ‘reverse logistics’ – the reverse management of stock to get items back into the supply chain as soon as possible.

Meeting short-term demands of the holiday season:

  • For many businesses, the holiday season provides unique challenges when compared to any other time of the year. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of managers identified this period as the most ‘challenging’.
  • To address short-term requirements during this busy period, 45 percent of warehouse managers view the leasing of hardware – also known as Hardware as a Service (HaaS) – as a cost-effective hardware solution for managing the peaks of service.
  • With 72 percent of managers citing multifunctional devices as critical to ensuring worker flexibility and performance, HaaS is becoming an increasingly popular alternative for businesses looking to increase short term mobility.

Bruce Stubbs, Intermec Industry Marketing Director for Distribution Center Operations, said: “The holiday season is the busiest and most challenging time of the year for distribution operations, especially those engaged in Business to Consumer (B to C) fulfillment. With challenging lead times, increased volumes, temporary staffing and the after holiday deluge of returns, improving mobility solutions for the workforce becomes more critical than ever before if businesses are to meet customer demands and improve profitability.”

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About Intermec

Intermec Inc. (NYSE:IN) is the workflow performance company. We design the leading data capture and information management solutions at the interface between mobile workers, assets, and customers. For more information about Intermec, visit or call 800-347-2636

About the Research:

The research sampled 250 senior supply chain managers at organisations of over 500 employees, spanning industries including retail, manufacturing, distribution, transport, chemicals, logistics, pharmaceuticals, wholesale and FMCG.

The research was commissioned by Intermec and carried out by research company Vanson Bourne in October 2012.

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