3 Trends Upending the Returns-to-Landfill Pipeline This Holiday Shopping Season

Finding resale opportunities

For retailers, triage is one of the most crucial parts of handling returns. Once returns are received, either thanks to logistics partners like Happy Returns or sent directly from the consumer, the company has to figure out what to do with each item.

The best case scenario is that it goes back on the shelf to be resold as new—but that’s not very common, Montgomery explained. The next-best option is that it gets resold at a discount, either through the brand’s platform or a third-party platform, which is becoming more common for small and medium-sized businesses, according to Software Advice’s report.

“More and more retailers and brands that we work with are embracing recommerce,” said Marcus Shen, CEO of B2B recommerce platform B-Stock. “While throwing it in the landfill might be easier, the right thing is to resell it and make sure that this stuff gets to good use.”

By recycling, repackaging, repairing or refurbishing products, 35% of survey respondents told Software Advice that they were able to recoup over half the cost of returned items.

Designing for repairability

Gathering data around returns throughout the triage and repair process also lets brands address the reasons that items are getting sent back in the first place, whether that’s a design issue or just bad packaging.

But even if the brand can’t refurbish or repair products in-house, many B2B platforms like B-Stock can help get those broken items into the hands of folks who can do the fixes. America’s Remanufacturing Company, which works directly with major retailers like Amazon, specializes in repairing, repackaging and reselling products that have been returned.

Half of those surveyed told Software Advice that they’re using reverse logistics data to make changes to product design. Improving repairability could make those products more valuable on secondhand markets.


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