E-commerce return policies make it easy to buy and return clothing when you can't try it on like in a brick-and-mortar store.
As sustainability is one of the buzzwords in the industry, it's time to focus on the environmental impact of returning online shopping returns. An alarming number of items end up in landfills, so it's time to change this habit.
RETURNS FROM ONLINE SHOPPING: CONSEQUENCES
What happens after you fold up that t-shirt, slip it into the envelope, and mail it back? Does the distribution team resell it?
It is estimated that 30% of online sales are returned, shaped in no small part by the pandemic, a trend that isn't going to go away soon. However, most of these returns end up in landfills rather than being resold. By 2024, almost 3 million tons of US returns will end up in landfills.
But the item can be resold? You might think that's fine, but the plastic packaging (of which only 54% is recycled) and the carbon footprint of transportation are also factors to consider. Every year, 17 billion items are returned. This results in the release of 4.7 million metric tons of harmful CO2 into the atmosphere.
RETURNS ARE NOT CHEAP
Because many returned items cannot be resold, retailers lose revenue. Additionally, processing costs are involved when managing returns and evaluating them.
A study estimates that product returns cost manufacturers and retailers over $100 billion a year, or about 3.8% of profits. For small or startup businesses, this could mean sink or swim.
ONLINE SHOPPING RETURNS: HOW TO MINIMIZE THEM
Consumers can still minimize returns despite free e-commerce return policies. Here's how.
KNOW YOUR MEASUREMENTS, DON'T ASSUME YOUR SIZE
Be empowered to buy what fits you. Know your actual measurements since sizes are inconsistent. You might be an 8 in one store, but a 6 in another. Many retailers list measurements alongside sizes in a chart, so you can shop smarter. Check the chart before. you add to your cart.
SHOP QUALITY TO AVOID FAST FASHION
When it comes to returning merchandise, fashion brands that make cheaply made products are the biggest contributors to landfills. Invest in timeless pieces.
Rather than believing that sustainable fashion is pricey, think of the cost divided by the number of times it will be worn.
To give an example, a good quality t-shirt that costs $50.00 and is worn once a week for a year equals a true cost of approximately about $0.52 per wear in one year. Investing in classic items with lasting appeal makes for sensible shopping and savvy saving.
Choose smaller brands that are more environmentally friendly and have greener credentials: plastic-free and 100% biodegradable & recyclable packaging (like Perfect TShirt Co's) and carbon-neutral shipping.