Chances are, if you’ve ever bought clothing online, you’ve experienced the disappointment of receiving a garment that doesn’t match your expectations. Then starts the arduous — and, arguably, environmentally unsustainable — task of returning said clothing.
While it may be a quick and simple process for the customer, behind the scenes, returns are a logistical nightmare for brands. If you’ve been shopping under the impression that your returns end up back on a brand’s virtual (or actual) shop floor, what really happens to them may surprise you. With the pandemic pushing shopping online more than ever before, returns have skyrocketed, more than doubling from 2019 to 2020. Last year in the U.S., consumers returned $102 billion of online purchases, according to the National Retail Federation, with apparel the second largest category at 12.2%.