Increased customer satisfaction and improved business processes at ReTurn

Since 1986, ReTurn, Inc. (ReTurn) has creatively managed centralised reverse logistics systems for retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers throughout the world. ReTurn prides itself on being innovators when designing efficient and cost-effective returns processes for their clients. For ReTurns customers, time spent trying to manage returns can be money and opportunities lost. ReTurns custom state-of-the-art reverse logistics solutions improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and maximise investment recovery. ReTurns services include not only the physical handling of returned goods, but also all the associated data processing: inventory, billing, credits, and reporting.

The Challenge
The reverse logistics process is a highly automated process. ReTurn relies on DART (Direct Automated Returns Tracking), an advanced software system that electronically tracks and reports every pertinent detail of the reverse logistics process, from first scan to final disposition. DART is an Oracle based Windows NT client-server driven system.

ReTurns data integration needs are essentially focused in three areas:

-ReTurns clients are providing frequent updates to their data SKU numbers, prices, etc. This data arrives as flat files and needs to be integrated into DART.
-Conversely, at the end of the month, the data needs to be extracted from DART and sent back to ReTurns clients, most of the time as flat files.
-And finally, since ReTurn is operating numerous warehouses and processing centers, in the US and Europe, consolidation of data is essential for accurate reporting at headquarters.

"We have been traditionally relying on custom C++ coding and extensive use of Oracle loading scripts to perform these data operations", explains Trent Lezer, Senior System Analyst with ReTurn. "This was extremely time-consuming and required high levels of expertise only a programmer or an Oracle DBA was capable of setting up these operations."

Benefits of Sunopsis
ReTurn looked at several ETL tools and picked Sunopsis for its data integration needs. After downloading an evaluation version and attending a Web-based demo, Trent Lezer was able to evaluate the tool on his own: "I found Sunopsis extremely intuitive and easy to learn. I have worked with other ETL tools in the past, and I have been frustrated by poorly designed user interfaces. Some vendors wont even let you download a trial version."

Sunopsis v3 meets or exceeds all of ReTurns technical requirements, plus it offers a superior user interface, and its price is also very attractive compared to other solutions.

According to Trent Lezer: "With Sunopsis v3, I no longer need to dive into complex PL/SQL and C++ code to create or maintain data transformation; I can quickly define movements of data and complex transformations through an intuitive drag-n-drop interface, specify the order in which data is moved to preserve referential integrity, and most importantly check visually the accuracy of the process."

And since Sunopsis generates native database code and uses any RDBMS to perform all the Extraction, Transformation and Loading work (instead of relying on a proprietary engine and programming language), the solution provides the best scalability possible.

For Steve Windsperger, Director of Development at ReTurn, the business benefits of Sunopsis are evident: "Instead of having highly skilled programmers and DBAs spend their time writing data import and export scripts, these tasks can now be performed by our business analysts. For ReTurn, this means that we will be able to handle more customers, decrease the length of the cycles, increase customer satisfaction, and ramp up our business faster."

Today, ReTurns data transfer needs are almost exclusively Oracle to Oracle and Oracle to/from flat files. But in the future, ReTurn Inc. has plans to couple its systems more closely with some of their customers. At this point, the open industry standards such as JDBC, JCA or XML on which Sunopsis, completely written in Java, relies will become even more important, alleviating the need to buy specific and pricey proprietary connectors or adapters for different technologies.

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