The retail industry faces a large and growing challenge in managing the 3.5 billion products consumers return every year, resulting in financial losses as well as environmental impacts, including 4 billion pounds of waste and 11 million metric tons of carbon emissions. Return rates at brick-and-mortar stores are nearly 9%, and the overall trend continues to grow, especially as return rates for e-commerce are even higher, between 10-20% of all sales. While painful for retailers, returns have been absorbed as a cost of doing business, and until recently the environmental impacts have been “out of sight, out of mind.” Savvy retailers now have the opportunity to improve their recovery and reduce environmental impacts through smart use of data and analytics to efficiently find interested buyers for returned and excess inventory.
In 2015 Optoro first developed an environmental impact model with a MBA student team from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, along with help from Optoro investor SJF Ventures and the environment experts at Environmental Capital Group.
In 2016 Optoro advanced the model to quantify the environmental benefits retailers can achieve using sophisticated reverse logistics management systems. The model, built in partnership with a third-party consultant, Environmental Capital Group, and independently verified by specialists at the U.S. EPA and logistics provider C.H. Robinson, demonstrates waste reductions of up to 60% and savings in fuel-related carbon emissions of up to 31%.
Optoro published a white paper to describe its working model, including a case study with Groupon Goods, and explain how retailers of any size can assess the environmental impacts of their own reverse supply chains using this framework. Please download and read the white paper here: Sustainable Reverse Logistics