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New Data on the Environmental Cost of Retail Returns
The Environmental Cost of Retail Returns Explored in Coresight Research’s New Report, The Hidden Cost of Retail Returns, Commissioned by Newmine
71% of US online shoppers over the age of 18 would return an online purchase to a store rather than through the mail if it were shown to reduce carbon footprint.
As consumers continue to migrate online for a greater share of their overall shopping, returns have become a critical and growing issue for retailers and brands. Coresight Research’s Sustainability Insight Report, The Hidden Costs of Retail Returns, commissioned by Newmine, details the variety of ways in which product returns have exacerbated the challenge of creating a sustainable retail business. Reducing product returns positively impacts sustainability in three key areas: waste from returned goods, carbon emissions, and packaging and plastic waste.
“Supply chains have become so complex and, in many cases, inefficient—resulting in markdowns and returned product ending up in landfill,” says Marie Driscoll, Managing Director, Luxury & Retail. “Retailers must address this costly and environmentally unsustainable challenge, or they jeopardize their ability to meet consumer demand and their financial health.”
The report outlines how returns reduction aligns to Coresight’s EnCORE Framework, a model through which retailers can begin to internalize a sustainability strategy, while boosting profits and driving growth.
Customer Education Can Provide Opportunities to Mitigate the Impact of High Returns
The press conference to launch this report featured a discussion moderated by Deborah Weinswig, Founder & CEO of Coresight Research. The panelists explored the various ways in which retailers can mitigate the impact of the ever-increasing volumes of product returns. The panel comprised:
- Navjit Bhasin, Founder & CEO of Newmine, a retail technology company focused on delivering applied-AI solutions to retailers seeking to reduce their product returns.
- Michael Relich, Interim CEO of PSEB (PacSun Eddie Bauer)
- Marie Driscoll
Customers have embraced fast, free, and frictionless returns, accounting for the growth in returns volume over the last decade, yet research revealed that customers are open to adjusting their behavior when made aware of how returns impact the environment:
- 71% of US shoppers over the age of 18 would return an online purchase to a store rather than through the mail if it were shown to reduce carbon footprint.
- 23% would consider paying a retailer to offset the carbon footprint associated with returning unwanted online purchases.
- 64% would be interested in returning items to a central depot in a mall/shopping center.
“Ultimately, a return is a failed sale that leaves the consumer disappointed and inconvenienced,” says Navjit Bhasin. “AI technology has made tackling this age-old issue problem possible—So when you reduce returns, you delight your customers and minimize your environmental impact. All while reducing a significant cost to the business. Everybody wins.”