A $260 billion ‘ticking time bomb’: The costly business of retail returns

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-8-13-50-amThe holiday shopping season is often a peak for retailers’ sales. But the flipside to that boom is it leads to peak returns season — costing retailers billions to handle unwanted, used or damaged goods each year.

Meanwhile, third parties have identified an opportunity to cash in on retailers’ return problems, and are trying to disrupt the traditional model for dealing with them. The Washington, D.C.-based startup Optoro claims its technology platform optimizes the efficiency for returned merchandise by finding the best re-sale price the moment the product is returned and scanned.

“We help these goods find their next best home, whether it’s an individual, business, charity or recycler anywhere around the world,” said Tobin Moore, CEO of Optoro. “We’re the technology and the systems that retailers are using at their warehouses, in storefronts and headquarters to manage and monitor these returns and to best route them.”

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CARLY LLEWELLYN

Director of Corporate Marketing