For moving refrigerators, stoves and other white goods Hoffman Estates, Ill. based Sears uses the services of third-party logistics company Genco (Pittsburgh, www.genco.com). Genco operates three distribution centers for Sears.

"We distribute anything east of the Mississippi from DCs in Columbus, Ohio, Columbia, Md., and Pottsville, Pa.," explains Cary Cameron, Genco's v.p. strategic technologies. "We just ship to the Sears MDO [Market Delivery Operation] facilities and the final mile is completed by them from there."

Sears Logistics Services handles all in-bound and outbound white goods deliveries to and from the Genco DCs. Within its DCs Genco uses Sears' warehouse management system so inventory is visible to managers in both organizations.

"There is some inventory management within our four-walls," notes Cameron "to make sure everything we were supposed to receive is there and is where it's supposed to be. But the overall network is handled by Sears."

Genco also handles most product returns from Sears stores (with the exception of white goods). It operates four reverse logistics warehouses for Sears in California, Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"Our common carriers go to the stores on a regular basis, pick up returns, consolidate them in their hubs, then bring full truckloads into our reverse logistics operations," says Cameron.

Genco uses proprietary software to run its reverse logistics operations that gives Sears managers real-time visibility into the process. They can see exact inventory levels in the return centers and call up instant reports on service based on previously established goals.

Genco is responsible for returning product to vendors or sending it to salvage operators. "We get a percentage of what we sell," says Cameron. "So any-time there's a claim stating salvage buyers didn't receive something they did, not only does it affect Sears results and the money they get but Genco as well."

This need for traceability led to a successful radio frequency identification implementation the Genco Atlanta facility. Based on the increase in accuracy and the ability to document shipment contents to salvage operators, the return on the RFID investment for Genco has been successful and the company is looking to implement it in its other facilities.

Genco Statistics
Employees: 6,000
Facilities: 94 with 30 million sq. ft.
Installations: : More than 100 of the company's proprietary software in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.