Reverse Logistics Automation


The customer is a full service Third Party Logistics company providing a number of fulfillment services. One "niche" they are involved in is reverse logistics... This is a fancy name for product returns. Especially in the clothing industry, items bought online are returned at a rate approaching 40%. This is not due to bad product but the fact that when buying online, people will order a few sizes and colors then return what they don't want.

The system allows customer service, consumer or the clients automation the ability to generate a return label on screen, via email or as part of the shipment automation. When the label is created the order number or other information can be sent to the system and associated with the return. The label allows the end consumer to drop off the package at the post office or schedule a pickup. Besides label creation, the tracking codes and a unique "RMA" number is assigned an barcoded on the label. When the package arrives in the warehouse, it is scanned and that status is instantly available to customer service.

The system is basically a website with secure login to allow the company to monitor return requests, tracking and receiving. It also allows searching by RMA, Order number and other fields.

A special encoded link is provided to the company to integrate the label generation into their shipping process. This encoded link will return a label image they can print directly on the shipping documents so that the end consumer will have a return label in hand once they receive the merchandise. In the past, the fulfillment center would prepare batches of 50,000 labels and send to the companies shipping warehouse for inclusion in the shipment. Now the automation generates labels on the fly and also provides other information such as order number which is all immediately available in the monitoring system.

A simple windows form desktop program runs on a citrix terminal in the warehouse to perform scanning on the inboud packages. Once scanned, the returns are re-packed for bulk shipment back to the company but the fact that the return has happened is available instantly.


  • Website
  • Desktop scanner program

Technologies used

  • Visual Studio 2015 / C#
  • SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Entity Framework 4.5
  • ASP Net MVC 4
  • Windows Forms
  • Fedex Shipment Soap API


The website is a standard MVC 4 site with html, javascript, css, sql server and IIS as the implementation tools.

The scanner program is a windows form program written in c# that utilizes a hand held scanner that scans the RMA number directly into a field on the desktop program. The RMA is found in the SQL database and the "Received" datetime is set. If the receipt date is more than xx days (configurable by the customer) the returned line inserted is displayed in red. If the return came in later than the company policy allows, the package is side tracked and handled by customer service.


A number of enhancements have been made and continue to be considered as more companies are brought online into the process.