Environmentally friendly solution – How a returnable container leads to less transport damage and greater sustainability

Increased safety, less damage and fewer returns. The advantages the expert group enjoys through using returnable transport containers marketed exclusively by trans-o-flex



At the headquarters of the electronics retail group expert, logistics specialists had been looking a long time for a solution to a complex challenge. Time and again, retailers returned ordered goods to the central warehouse because the transport packaging was damaged on delivery. Although this does not automatically mean that the goods were also damaged, it did lead to more returns than necessary. And these not only resulted in extra work and additional costs, but also meant the goods were of course not available for sale, either.

In a series of workshops, trans-o-flex and expert jointly devised an innovative solution – a new returnable container system was to turn the situation around. Both trans-o-flex and expert were convinced that they would not only be able to address the above-mentioned challenges, but also to realise additional advantages that had not even been considered at first. And that is exactly how it happened.



To meet the challenges described above, trans-o-flex and expert, in cooperation with SCL, a subsidiary of returnable container specialist Schoeller Allibert, have developed returnable transport containers that are precisely tailored to expert’s logistics requirements. The company Schoeller Allibert mastered the entire process from design development, prototype construction and series production through to the operation of returnable pools. Together they decided on two different-sized folding crates. They are so sturdy that they transport goods without damage. Double strapping and seals provide additional security. Thanks to the folding mechanism, the crates only take up very little space during return transport. And this is how trans-o-flex-Express and expert tested the crate solution for almost eight months.

Tested thoroughly: 38 retailers, eight months long, 22,000 consignments
Of the 409 expert sites, 38 took part in the test and received a total of 22,000 small and large returnable containers during the pilot phase. The survey of the participating expert shareholders that followed was clear. The overall concept, practicability, quality and handling were all rated ‘very good’. It was therefore decided to switch to the new container concept. By the end of 2019, the delivery of the required returnable containers and the introduction phase had been completed. Since January 2020, delivery in returnable containers has been the standard shipping method to all expert specialist shops and retailers. In the course of the changeover, trans-o-flex also took over the delivery of around 250,000 parcels per year, which expert had previously been sending via another service provider.

Switch to returnable containers increases quality of deliveries
By switching to returnable containers, expert has been able to demonstrably improve the quality of its deliveries. This is because, compared to shipping in cardboard packaging, expert has proven during the test phase that the number of goods damaged fell by 74.2%, based on the returnable containers in use. During the entire analysis period there were only 14 instances of damage using the returnable containers.

expert avoids production and disposal of 700,000 single-use cardboard boxes annually
Because the employees at the expert central warehouse in Langenhagen no longer pack goods in disposable cardboard boxes, but instead use only returnable containers for shipping to the 409 specialist shops and retailers throughout Germany, the environment also benefits. “The changeover is in line with our logistics sustainability strategy and marks a further step towards environmentally friendly delivery to our sites,” says Edwin ten Voorde, Logistics Director at expert. By switching to returnable containers, expert no longer sends around 700,000 parcels a year in disposable cardboard boxes. Cardboard packaging is now only used for shipping if it is an original box suitable for shipping, such as televisions or automatic coffee machines, which do not need to be repackaged in this way.

Returnable containers are marketed exclusively by trans-o-flex
“trans-o-flex will be offering the returnable solution exclusively in the coming years,” explains company boss Wolfgang P. Albeck. “We believe that we can convince other companies with this, too.” expert uses two different sizes of returnable containers. “Other container sizes are also possible, depending on the requirements of the consignors.”


About expert SE
expert SE, based in Langenhagen, is a trading group for consumer electronics, information technology, telecommunications, entertainment and household appliances. It currently comprises 211 expert shareholders with a total of 409 sites throughout Germany. True to the brand claim “With the best recommendations”, expert stands like no other electronics retailer for the highest level of service and consulting expertise. In the more than 55-year company history, expert has established a strong position in the market and is now the second largest electronics retailer in Germany. For years, the expert Group has recorded business results that are above the industry average. In the 2019/2020 financial year, internal sales at industrial selling prices (excluding VAT) amounted to 2.08 billion euros.

The expert brand is represented at more than 4,000 sites in a total of 22 countries. The respective national companies are consolidated within expert International, which was founded in 1967 and is based in Zurich. In 2019, all members of expert International generated total sales of around 16 billion euros.

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