The ecommerce market has grown at an exponential rate that is set to continue with the increasing uptake of online shopping as we move towards a new way of living.

In the ecommerce sector, over 50% of products are returned by online consumers and the traditional returns label process is both time-consuming and expensive, with multiple printing and packing operations required to accommodate the goods note, return instructions, returns label and returns questionnaire, which all need to be unique to each customer delivery. Add in GDPR and the process is frustrating for everyone involved and open to human error, at great costs to the retailer, taking up working hours and reducing margins.

In 2019, we launched the Cobalt NexPlex® to solve the problems of the traditional returns label process. A unique label and print solution that integrates all returns packaging into one real-time, layered, delivery label, NexPlex® reduces capital investment in equipment, lowers consumable costs and enables faster dispatch times. The consumer benefits too, with the system delivering a simple, step-by-step returns process removing all personal data from the returns package.

NexPlex® has received great acclaim amongst our customers in ecommerce and logistics, but now the world is facing a new challenge. As we begin to come to terms with the effects of the pandemic, a new era of medical testing has emerged, requiring stringent logistical processes and a reactive and fast-moving supply chain.

Home testing kits are now being rolled out in their thousands every day and there have been cases of returns labels going awry (see Metro article), creating wasted medical resources and adding to the stress for the person awaiting testing and prolonging diagnosis. NexPlex® simplifies the whole process of shipping and returning a home medical testing kit; real-time generation of customer detail is held within the unique coding on the label so that once the kit has been received and testing carried out, the user can simply place their sample back in the original packaging, which is already pre-prepared for return and post it back to the lab. The unique system provided by NexPlex® eliminates the risk of returns labels and other returns documentation going astray.

The instructions for returning the home testing kit are held on the underside of the top address label, ensuring clear and concise returns guidance is sent with every test and guaranteeing removal of personal data for GDPR compliance. If required, a tear-out section for any details the end-user needs to include in the return can be incorporated.

The NexPlex® label system is powered by Cobalt’s industry-leading Nexus print and apply system, creating a unique and fully automated returns label print solution. Our heritage in print and apply labelling is built on our passion for innovation coupled with a consultancy-led approach to finding a solution for our customers and strong partnerships with Zebra Technologies and NiceLabel software.