The following three points show that the optimization of returns management and the handling of B-goods not only contribute to a company’s ecological footprint but also offer several advantages for both suppliers and buyers:
Sustainability does not contradict profit: Many companies currently leave their returns management to logistics service providers. That sounds like an efficient solution, but that is usually not the case from the perspective of sustainability or cost-efficiency. Logistics service providers often sell returns unsorted, on mixed pallets, and as “C-goods” to bulk buyers. This way, the products are often sold for less than 10 percent of their value, and goods that the bulk buyer cannot use may even be destroyed. It is therefore much more sensible to check the individual steps of the return management process to see which areas can be optimized in-house or addressed together with a qualified partner in order to achieve better value retention. After a quality check, evaluation (the so-called “grading”), and possibly some repairs, returns can be sold to new owners much more profitably via marketplaces, auction platforms, or on your own webshops. This is also possible for overstock and other B-ware.
Attractive offer for consumers: The purchase of returned products and B-goods offers customers an attractive alternative. You can purchase goods that are almost as good as new as well as products with transparently documented small defects or signs of use at attractive prices. This is not only interesting for consumers who are looking for an inexpensive alternative to new goods, but also for those who pay attention to the sustainable use of resources. Current study results clearly show the growing interest of consumers in such offers.
Differentiation from the competition: In the highly competitive market, the offer of B-goods also offers great potential to stand out from the competition and establish yourself as a brand or retailer that uses resources sustainably by adding returns and other B-goods to the circular economy to be led back. Suppliers are sometimes concerned that they will cannibalize their offer and image if they also make so-called B-goods available to their customers. However, our experience in working with well-known brands has shown that the offer of returns, in particular, opens up exciting new customer groups for them who have been won over by the good price-performance ratio or the sustainability concept.
The statements made by consumers in current surveys speak for themselves and demonstrate the growing interest in more sustainability in retail. We still have to set things in motion for our vision of zero waste in eCommerce, but the more intelligent handling of goods and the optimization of returns management and related processes are an important step towards achieving this goal.