Language: (English)

Broken. Incomplete. Used.
And worth a bundle

How the RLG Group and its service partners turn returned goods into profit-makers.

“Next, please!” the shop assistant calls out. Monika Hansen steps up to the till and heaves the espresso machine she bought just yesterday onto the counter. The lean, mean hot-beverage machine was supposed to be a present for a friend. But someone else beat her to it, and now the birthday girl has two espresso makers. And as if that weren’t enough, Sabine, her friend, damaged the box while unpacking the gift. “I’d like to return this espresso machine, please,” Monika Hansen says, adding in an apologetic tone: “But the box has torn. Is that going to be a problem?”

The shop assistant puts her mind at ease. “Nope, no problem at all!” she says with a smile and gives Monika Hansen her money back without further ado. Monika leaves the shop, relieved. Yet she can’t possibly imagine the gigantic process this torn box has set in motion.

Simply repacking the parts and repairing the box with SellotapeTM isn’t enough. Customers want new, unused, pristine goods. So for the espresso machine, back to the manufacturer it goes, where it will wait with a host of other household appliances until there are enough of them to fill a lorry.

Two weeks later, the appliance company contacts RLG Recare GmbH online and requests a pick-up of the returned goods. With its custom RLG Return NET IT system, the RLG Group has fast and easy access to all the information it needs. It knows which retailers have sent which appliances. It knows how many appliances are out there and their retail value. All that’s missing now is the state the appliance is in. Is it defective? Are there parts missing? Can it still be sold? Or is recycling the only option left?

To find that out, it’s not enough to simply pick up the appliance – it also has to be thoroughly inspected. This is why RLG Recare works with a selected service partner to pick up the pallets of returned goods. Just a few days later, the driver backs his lorry up carefully to the loading dock and unloads the pallets. And in the middle of all the blenders, irons and toasters is Monika Hansen’s espresso machine.

The lorry leaves the manufacturer headed for the service partner’s fulfilment centre. Once they arrive, the goods are subjected to carefully coordinated, comprehensive testing. Only appliances with a retail value of less than 50 euros are sorted out and recycled properly for improved efficiency. Now it’s the espresso machine’s turn to be tested. It all starts with a visual inspection: Is it still originally packaged? Does the appliance look new? Is its appearance flawless, or are there signs of wear and tear? Then it’s on to the performance test: Do all its features, displays and switches work? Microwaves also have to undergo radiation testing in accordance with guidelines set forth by Germany’s Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE). A defective door is enough for a microwave to land on the recycling heap.

Sometimes all an appliance needs is for a few screws to be tightened. Others need a few new accessories or a new box – just like Monika Hansen’s espresso machine. Once everything is ship shape and ready to go, the tested goods are sorted and palletised for resale. The quality of every appliance is painstakingly documented on RLG Return NET, giving clients access to detailed recycling and sales reports at their fingertips.

The path taken by Monika’s espresso machine has also been recorded in detail in the system. Now boxed in new original packaging, it waits to move on to its next stop. The RLG service partner loads the pallet containing the birthday gift that never was, along with other tested and repaired household appliances, onto a lorry destined for Neumünster, where an eBay Power Seller is waiting to sell the products in a dedicated brand shop at fantastic auction-house prices. The sales revenues not only cover the entire logistics and testing process, they also make a profit. Even recycled goods contribute to the proceeds. After all, the RLG Group and its global subsidiaries have the experience, expertise and sales channels to make every gram of plastic and every ounce of metal into real profit-makers.

One week later, Monika Hansen is browsing eBay. Sabine, her friend, is head over heels for her new espresso machine. So now Monika just has to have one, too. And as luck would have it, she bids on the exact same machine she returned to the shop just a few weeks ago. You could say the story has come full circle. It all started with a return to the shop. Or as we prefer to call it: a return to value.

RLG Recare GmbH
Karl-Hammerschmidt-Str. 36
85609 Dornach b. München
Tel: +49 89 49049 484
Fax: +49 89 49049 33 484

The RLG subsidiary RECARE GmbH develops take-back solutions for retailers and manufacturers in the electronics segment. Services such as recycling, remarketing and reuse of products and components are offered and supplemented with valuable components for commerce such as extended warranty, trade returns or customer loyalty programmes.