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This Is Where Your Online Shopping Returns Really Go

We have all grown comfortably accustomed to online shopping. So much so, that we have several strategies in place like ordering several sizes just to see what fits or two outfits that look equally great or even the same one in different colour choices — free return policies have made this convenience possible that may not have any additional costs for the buyer but has the planet paying a hefty price for it.

According to Statista, a leading provider in consumer and market data states that by the end of 2019 the global e-commerce market had sales reaching $3.5 billion and represented 14% of the total chunk of global retail sales. It also predicted that by the end of 2020, global e-sales will reach $4.2 billion and make up 16% of total retail sales. E-commerce has without doubt changed the game and made heading to a store or queuing up at the cashier seem like ancient activity. However, it should also be noted that nearly half (47%) of consumers aged 18 to 29 say they buy multiple items online with the intention of returning most, and that almost a third of those say they're returning more often than they did a year ago, according to goTRG a supply chain reverse logistics provider.

Naïvety would have us believe that our returns simply head back to the store only to be resold, but that is hardly the case. 

Every year, 5 billion pounds of brand new returned clothing ends up in a landfill. Most consumers tend to return items with signs of usage that can’t immediately end back up on the rack for someone else to claim. And even in the case that something is mailed back in good condition, shipping it back can damage the item. Additionally, retailers have come to realise that throwing out a returned item is the most cost-effective way to deal with it rather than paying for it to be cleaned, fixed up and returned to the racks. Landfills are just the tip of the iceberg as these returns also cause a great deal of environmental damage with CO2 emissions.

Right from speedy prime deliveries to your unwanted returns, hauling around these parcels creates over 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

While brands and retailers can’t take away the option of free returns that would render them at a bigger loss, consumers can certainly exercise caution with their buying behaviour. By being aware of your correct or closest size, grouping several orders together while ordering and being wary with excessive purchases during big sales, we could stand to collectively reduce this damage. 

Published by: Jharna pariani/ 2020-03-28

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