Over the course of the last year, we as a country have made a ton of online purchases. Because the pandemic forced us all to go online, it was only expected that returns be online as well. If you end up not wanting or not needing a certain item, you can return it for free almost anywhere you buy from. But what does that truly entail?

Just over the past holiday season, online purchases have grown 72%! Nearly 70 billion dollars worth of online purchases were spent and retailers have profited from that. But online purchases means online returns, which have been free. Most retailers are finding that they are spending a lot more on having the customers return their items for free than sending the item to the customers. Recently, they have just been having the customers keep the unwanted item while refunding them, so they don’t have to go through the entire return process.

Alongside that, the free returned items don’t go in a place you would think of. 25% of returns get thrown away or get thrown in the landfill. The other 75% are either sent to liquidation centers where people rummage through the items to make sure they are in good condition. If they are, they get sent to used retail stores or warehouses. When it is sent to the used retail stores, they are usually sold for super cheap. 

In what ways could online retailers help reduce the number of used items in landfills or returns in general? Well, having a good online system is a huge help. Making sure that your size charts are accurate is a great help for clothing stores. Augmented reality helps you see the items in your home and what it may look like in real life. Chat boxes with customer service representatives are a great help as well. They are able to answer all of the immediate questions that need answering.

What are your thoughts on the truth behind returns? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.