OAKLAND, Calif. - Though right now is the season to be shopping, in just over a week, it will be the season of sending back and returning gifts. Now, high technology retailers are adopting to lose less money on something consumers demand: replacements or refunds.
One critical consumer benefit that makes both online and brick and mortar stores more successful are liberal return policies.
But, this year, experts say U.S. consumers will return some $67 billion in merchandise for replacement or refunds. That is the entire value of shipping giant Federal Express or Allstate insurance and Twitter combined.
Mike Ganz is Senior Data Director, at Optoro, a software company that specializes in gift and product return technologies.
"It's well founded research that shows that the better returns experience you have, the better forward experience and the better loyalty you build with those customers," said Ganz.
Optoro projects returns cost retailers an average of two-thirds of their cost because many items are not refurbished, recycled or resold.
"Often they're ending up in a dump, sort of in a trash heap; quite literally in a landfill and so. That's a lot of lost money for the retailer," said Ganz.
And get this, memory chips are everywhere now, not just in computers and phones. Refrigerators, washers; many appliances are loaded with them. So are wearables including fitness trackers, running shoes, earphones and smart glasses. All of them record and store personal data.
"There needs to be an entirely different process where you're going through and doing things like wiping memory; making sure that personally identifiable information is on these devices," said Ganz. That’s why return technology has become increasingly essential.
"We've seen a number of retailers, before they have on boarded Optoro, was throwing away 60, 70, 80% of their returns; recycling or putting in a dump. We keep 95 to 97% of all products put through Optoro's software, out of landfills," said Ganz.
That is also a very much intended environmental benefit for everyone.