Returning your online purchases burns fuel and might send them to the dump

Returning your online purchases burns fuel and might send them to the dump ...

A US postal worker prepares to deliver packages on Cyber Monday in 2021. E-commerce purchases have a return rate up to five times higher than goods purchased in stores.

Another record for e-commerce companies is returned goods.

When holiday discounts begin at home due to the outbreak, people did not stop clicking. Online sales in the United States, according to Adobe, are at an all-time high.

Not all of those purchases were successful, but many people redirected them back to retailers, causing them to have a problem sorting and store the items, and decide if they have any return value. Returns also take a toll on the environment, requiring additional fossil fuel to ship and creating a lot of trash.

Returns are a normal part of retail. Clothes don't fit, appliances have manufacturing flaws or shoppers change their minds. Return that janky blender back to the big box store and a refund to your credit card is usually quick and simple.

According to Optoro, holiday returns are expected to be $120 billion.

UPS expects to handle more than 60 million holiday returns this season. More than one in four people told the carrier they'd planned to make a return over the holidays.

Walmart, bespoke women's suit manufacturer Koviem, and others have invested in online tools that help you find the right size without trying to wear clothes on. Additionally, some companies have found it's easier to along with your refund in order to save on resources.

While allowing returns can increase customer loyalty, companies do not want to eat up too much of their holiday income, according to Audrey Guskey, a marketing professor who teaches consumer behavior at Duquesne University.

"They really feel like it's money in their pocket," she said.

More online returns mean less waste.

Companies aren't investing in the returns process in the same amount they have for your purchases, according to Tamar Makov, a researcher at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev business management school.

"Unlike products that come from a factory, returned products are not homogeneous, and vary in terms of condition, packaging, or tags, or even how long consumers held onto them," Makov said in an email.

According to Makov, retailers can dispose of low-cost items if that's cheaper than reselling them. An Amazon facility in the United Kingdom has sent returned items to a "destruction zone" that in a year, according to ITV News.

In a year, Optoro estimates that roughly all retailers in the United States will be returned to the landfill.

A return ending up in the dump is a dangerous situation. Trashed items require even more fuel for transportation because they make the extra trip from a return facility to the dump. Rather than reselling your item, the retailer will send a new item to another shopper, meaning more resources can be wasted.

Alternatives to placing an order in returns

If there's a store near you, you can reduce the environmental impact of your return.

Retailers are attempting to help.

According to a survey conducted by e-commerce customer service company Narvar, companies like Gap and Walmart are investing in software that helps shoppers locate the right fit.

Services like Drapr,, and Zeekit, respectively, allow you to create 3D avatars so that customers can see how their made-to-measure suits will look on them.

A management consulting company estimates retailers will refund $4.4 billion in goods without receiving anything back from customers from 2021. Jockey, a company that confirmed its customer service workers can approve this type of refund, has stated that the company will offer a refund without asking them to send a low-cost item back.

Matthew Waller, a spokesperson for Jockey, said: "We trust their real-time judgment when it comes to helping customers."

If you discover yourself with a returnless refund, you may give it to a friend or a family member, or offer it up on a free item exchange like FreeCycle or Buy Nothing. You may also consider giving it.

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