A Customer-Friendly Process

Outsourcing smoothes parts-return process for automaker.

To improve customer service, Subaru of America Inc., Cherry Hill, N.J., has packaged three parts-return functions and outsourced them to Roadway Express Inc.'s reverse-logistics subsidiary, Rexsis Inc. Whether the part is an overstock, a warranty replacement, or is one that can be refurbished, the dealer calls one toll-free number. Rexsis does the documentation and arranges transportation, says Dan Ohms, international and parts-traffic manager for Subaru. Parts to be refurbished are shipped to a Rexsis facility where they are inspected and held in inventory until a remanufacturer needs them. All other parts are shipped directly to Subaru for inspection and possible return to inventory. "We have established guidelines with Rexsis that restrict the number of returns from a dealer," says Ohms. Those parameters include shipments of a certain number of items or weight. Subaru opts for weekly rather than daily reports of parts received from specific dealers. Ohms processes the Excel spreadsheet report through Subaru's system to credit dealers much more quickly than when Subaru managed the process itself. Subaru and Rexsis are discussing moving to a Web-based process, potentially using the private intranet that currently connects all Subaru dealers. A hotlink to Rexsis' Web site could allow dealers to request return pickups online, says Ohms. Rexsis' logistics project specialist Ric Spicer is working to allow dealers to enter returns information. "We need to be able to collect information in the system and assist customers in analysis and reporting. And we need to provide information visibility through the entire process," he adds. "With specific information to identify the product, we can create transportation documentation as well as alert the manufacturer or third party to the return without rekeying data."

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