The bleak aftermath of seasonal shopping is upon us. An anticipated flood of Christmas returns and January sale items start re-entering warehouses of retailers worldwide as unwanted presents pack postal vans, and customer complaints hit email inboxes.
Thought to cost firms around £7bn a year, returns also weigh heavy on retail’s carbon footprint, with factors such as transport, storage and disposal eating at profits and increasing delivery mileage as well as the prospective number of items reaching landfill.
Reprocessing items is an expensive task and the Guardian recently reported that about 15% of electrical goods are disposed of after being bought online, due to being either too dear to fix or irreparable.
Additionally, retailers are put off by other expenses such as needing to data-wipe returned tech and repackaging items for resale. It is a sad state of affairs, that many untouched and perfectly good items will never be re-sold or used.
Adam Pye, MD at John Pye the UK’s leading auctioneers, recommends auction as the alternative way to turn a profit and put an end to returns waste from entering landfill by encouraging vendors to create circular selling methods.
The company sold over 16 million items including ex-display, overstocks and return stock in 2021 from hundreds of leading UK retailers with auctions daily including lots from all top brands such as Apple, Samsung Panasonic, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Lego, The North Face, Adidas, Dyson, Bosch and much more.
“Up to 70% of our stock is returned goods, many of these have minor imperfections and range from anything such as whitegoods including expensive dishwashers and washing machines through to high-end tech such as the latest games consoles and smart-devices.
“We are under immense pressure as an industry to dramatically reduce our carbon output and while returns can be costly, with the right partner and process, retailers should be confident that they can and should be reselling many returned goods.”
Regain control through re-sale
Less than half of returned goods go back on sale, and yet there has been a surge in the number of consumers considering sustainable shopping methods. Ironically, many consumers looking to be more eco-friendly still do not understand the full carbon-footprint just one order can have on our environment – let alone a returned order.
Adam added: “It’s time to regain control. We know that businesses are often put off by the expense and effort to clean-up or wipe the data from returned stock – to them it just isn’t worth it. At auction however, we work on a commission basis on the resale of the stock and we handle the rest for free, making it easier to eliminate potential landfill waste.
“We also sell off pallets of goods – often where customers find their biggest bargains. Those that are more entrepreneurial go further to resell these goods on other bidding platforms such as eBay or at car boot sales.”
Recent data shows 32% of consumers are highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, proving sustainability is still a top priority for 2022.
“There is still a much-needed education for both retailers and consumers regarding the return footprint of their purchases,” Adam said.
“Customers need to understand the effect their unwanted goods are having on our planet, and also need to be aware of ways to shop for many new and unused items from second-hand sellers.
“Auctions present an economically sound way to shop. Savvy spenders are able to pick up huge discounts on returned designer goods, high-spec electrics and ex-display furniture at auctions – often simply because they no longer look ‘box-fresh’.
“Sometimes, perception is what counts. While something may seem second-hand from its packaging appearance, often the items sold at auction are completely unused. Buyers really shouldn’t be put off grabbing themselves a bargain because of the packaging.”
At John Pye, a 2020 Apple Macbook Pro 13.3” retailing at £1,500 sold for just £695.00 more than half-the-price of its original RRP. For those looking for a bargain, turn your eye to auction this year.