Sustainability: how to manage e-commerce returns.

Environmental sustainability is also an increasingly important issue in online and offline sales.With the rise of online shopping in recent years, returns have also increased: the possibility to return a product free of charge is an important factor for customers, who can then buy with tranquillity, knowing that they can return the product if it does not meet their expectations.Unfortunately, however, returns have a big negative impact on retailers' pockets and on the environment: it is estimated that in the US, in 2020 alone, 2.6 million tonnes of returns ended up in landfills and that the shipping process of returned items caused the emission of 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2)As a result, companies have started to consider the sustainability of their returns and look for ways to minimise them without compromising salesThis Google research has gathered some ideas for improving return processes and reducing costs. For example, companies can:Understand what customers don't like about products through social media or reviews to understand what didn't work and improve that aspectEnsure that products arrive at their destination undamagedMake packaging easier to recycle or reuse: for example, some retailers have started to reuse packaging received with returns and reduce the thickness of the cardboard by a few millimetres or the padding by a few grams to save entire tonnes of packaging material each yearImprove the user experience by giving more information about products: videos, pictures, colours, sizes, etc. help to understand whether or not a product is suitable for buyers' needsEducate customers, make them think about the impact returns can have on the environment and show them which is the most sustainable option to return products

Environmental sustainability is also an increasingly important issue in online and offline sales.

With the rise of online shopping in recent years, returns have also increased: the possibility to return a product free of charge is an important factor for customers, who can then buy with tranquillity, knowing that they can return the product if it does not meet their expectations.

Unfortunately, however, returns have a big negative impact on retailers' pockets and on the environment: it is estimated that in the US, in 2020 alone, 2.6 million tonnes of returns ended up in landfills and that the shipping process of returned items caused the emission of 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2)

As a result, companies have started to consider the sustainability of their returns and look for ways to minimise them without compromising sales

This Google research has gathered some ideas for improving return processes and reducing costs. For example, companies can:

  • Understand what customers don't like about products through social media or reviews to understand what didn't work and improve that aspect
  • Ensure that products arrive at their destination undamaged
  • Make packaging easier to recycle or reuse: for example, some retailers have started to reuse packaging received with returns and reduce the thickness of the cardboard by a few millimetres or the padding by a few grams to save entire tonnes of packaging material each year
  • Improve the user experience by giving more information about products: videos, pictures, colours, sizes, etc. help to understand whether or not a product is suitable for buyers' needs
  • Educate customers, make them think about the impact returns can have on the environment and show them which is the most sustainable option to return products