Optoro Inc. and Locus Robotics Corp. last week announced a strategic partnership. They said they will provide a fully integrated, robust, and highly scalable software and robotics hardware system for high-volume returns processing in retail and e-commerce.
“Partnering with Locus enables us to deliver a proven robotics automation solution that is well-positioned to meet the high throughput demands of today’s return centers,” stated Amena Ali, CEO of Optoro. “Together, we can help retailers move inventory faster and more efficiently through the supply chain, cut costs, minimize their environmental impact, and improve the customer experience.”
Washington, D.C.-based Optoro said it offers data science and real-time decision-making automation to improve the returns process. The company said that its customer returns portal is easy to use and provides warehouse processing and resale software.
Optoro cited leading retailers and brands – including American Eagle, Best Buy, Staples, and IKEA – that trust its technology “to make returns a strategic advantage for their business and enable sustainability initiatives across their supply chain.”
Optoro integrates AMRs to keep up with return volume
Increasing order volumes in e-commerce mean a corresponding increase in returns, noted the companies. U.S. retail returns totaled $816 billion in 2022, with e-commerce returns totaling $212 billion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Both more than doubled their totals from 2019, it said.
Reverse logistics includes product returns, refurbishment and repairs, recycling of packaged materials, and disposal of end-of-life products, explained the partners. It involves many areas across the organization, including returns management, sales, finance, warehousing, logistics, recycling management, and environmental compliance. It is also an important part of the customer experience, said Locus Robotics and Optoro.
Optoro has integrated its returns platform with Locus’ autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to to handle order returns – whose numbers typically increase substantially during the holiday season. By determining the best path for each returned item, the technology can improve efficiency, maximize repurchases and recovery, and reduce labor costs and waste, claimed the companies.
In addition, Optoro said the integration of its software with Locus' AMRs “allows retailers to focus on forward fulfillment while offering the best customer experience.”
Locus Robotics brings experience, scalability
“Returns and reverse logistics have historically been high-volume, high-cost functions that are typically quite complicated,” said Al Dekin, chief revenue officer at Locus Robotics. “We believe our partnership with Optoro will provide 3PLs [third-party logistics companies], retailers, warehouse operators, and others a repeatable, efficient, and proven solution.”
Locus said its system enables operators to easily manage large-scale AMR fleets to speed up returns processing, minimize restocking challenges, and lower labor costs by seamlessly scaling up and down whenever demand changes. The Wilmington, Mass.-based company asserted that it delivers enterprise-level, large-scale e-commerce automation that is suitable for high-throughput, 24/7 operations.
Locus has deployed its LocusBots in both single-level and multi-level mezzanine environments.
“During the recent peak season, Locus had several sites operating more than 500 LocusBots apiece, and dozens of others with more than 100 bots each,” Dekin said. “Our experience and success in deploying large fleets not only instills the confidence our customers require, but the speed at which we can deploy is [also] equally critical.”
Locus said its AMRs work with people and can double or triple productivity. Named to the Inc. 500 two years in a row, and winning over 17 industry and technology awards, the company said its system can reduce operational costs and improve workplace quality, safety, and ergonomics.
Supporting more than 100 of the world’s top brands and deployed at over 250 sites around the world, Locus said it enables retailers, 3PLs, and specialty warehouses to efficiently meet and exceed the increasingly complex and demanding requirements of today’s fulfillment environments.