Friday, January 1, 2016

What happens to stuff you buy and then return

Little known to shoppers, however, is that a majority of returned items never make it back to retailers’ shelves. Instead, the items wind their way through liquidators, wholesalers and resellers, many of the purchases ending up in landfills. According to some estimates, as much as two million tons of returned items — most of it undamaged merchandise — are thrown away each year, enough to fill over 200,000 garbage trucks. ...

Optoro’s approach to cutting waste is to offer retailers more direct and cost-efficient ways to sell their returned goods through a software platform that tracks returns, quickly assesses which channel is the most effective for each returned item, and routes products to those channels.

For undamaged products that have a high resale value, like baby goods, power tools or tablet devices, Optoro’s software might direct products to its own discount site,, which sells open-box goods at discounts.
--Hiroko Tabuchi, NYT, on the cost of returned merchandise