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  • Hi. My name is Aparna.

  • I am a shopaholic --

  • (Laughter)

  • and I'm addicted to online returns.

  • (Laughter)

  • Well, at least I was.

  • At one time, I had two or three packages of clothing delivered to me

  • every other day.

  • I would intentionally buy the same item

  • in a couple different sizes and many colors,

  • because I did not know what I really wanted.

  • So I overordered, I tried things on, and then I sent what didn't work back.

  • Once my daughter was watching me return some of those packages back,

  • and she said, "Mom, I think you have a problem."

  • (Laughter)

  • I didn't think so.

  • I mean, it's free shipping and free returns, right?

  • (Laughter)

  • I didn't even think twice about it,

  • until I heard a statistic at work that shocked me.

  • You see, I'm a global solutions director for top-tier retail,

  • and we were in a meeting with one of my largest customers,

  • discussing how to streamline costs.

  • One of their biggest concerns was managing returns.

  • Just this past holiday season alone,

  • they had 7.5 million pieces of clothing returned to them.

  • I could not stop thinking about it.

  • What happens to all these returned clothes?

  • So I came home and researched.

  • And I learned that every year,

  • four billion pounds of returned clothing ends up in the landfill.

  • That's like every resident in the US did a load of laundry last night

  • and decided to throw it in the trash today.

  • I was horrified.

  • I'm like, "Of all people,

  • I should be able to help prevent this."

  • (Laughter)

  • My job is to find solutions to logistical issues like these --

  • not create them.

  • So this issue became very personal to me.

  • I said, "You know what? We have to solve this."

  • And we can, with some of the existing systems we already have in place.

  • And then I started to wonder: How did we get here?

  • I mean, it was only like six years ago when a study recommended

  • that offering free online returns would drive customers to spend more.

  • We started seeing companies offering free online returns

  • to drive more sales and provide a better experience.

  • What we didn't realize

  • is that this would lead to more items being returned as well.

  • In the US, companies lost 351 billion dollars in sales

  • in 2017 alone.

  • Retailers are scrambling to recover their losses.

  • They try to place that returned item online to be sold again,

  • or they'll sell it to a discount partner

  • or a liquidator.

  • Basically, if companies cannot find a place for this item

  • quickly and economically,

  • its place becomes the trash.

  • Suddenly, I felt very guilty for being that shopper,

  • somebody who contributes to this.

  • Who would have thought my innocent shopping behavior

  • would be hurting not only me,

  • but our planet as well?

  • And as I thought about what to do,

  • I kept thinking:

  • Why does the item have to be returned to the retailer in the first place?

  • What if there was another way,

  • a win-win for everyone?

  • What if when a person is trying to return something,

  • it could go to the next shopper who wants it,

  • and not the retailer?

  • What if, instead of a return,

  • they could do what I call a "green turn"?

  • Consumers could use an app to take pictures of the item

  • and verify the condition while returning it.

  • Artificial intelligence systems could then sort these clothes by condition --

  • mint condition or slightly used --

  • and direct it to the next appropriate person.

  • Mint-conditioned clothes could automatically go to the next buyer,

  • while slightly used clothes could be marked down

  • and offered online again.

  • The retailer can decide the business rules

  • on the number of times a particular item can be resold.

  • All that the consumer would need to do is obtain a mobile code,

  • take it to the nearest shipping place to be packed and shipped,

  • and off it goes from one buyer to the next,

  • not the landfill.

  • Now you will ask,

  • "Would people really go through all this trouble?"

  • I think they would if they had incentives,

  • like loyalty points or cash back.

  • Let's call it "green cash."

  • There would be a whole new opportunity to make money

  • from this new customer base looking to buy these returns.

  • This system would make a fun thing like shopping

  • a spiritual experience

  • that helps save our planet.

  • (Applause)

  • This is doable

  • and would probably take six months to weave some of our existing systems

  • and run a pilot.

  • Even before any of these logistical systems are in place,

  • each of us shoppers can act now,

  • if every single adult in the US made a few small changes

  • to our shopping behavior.

  • Take the extra time to research and think --

  • Do I really need this item?

  • No: Do I really want this item? --

  • before making a purchase.

  • And if every one of us adults in the US

  • returned five less items this year,

  • we would keep 240 million pounds of clothes out of the landfill.

  • Six percent reduction, just like that.

  • This environmental problem that we have created

  • is not thousands of years away;

  • it's happening today,

  • and must stop now to prevent growing landfills across the globe.

  • I want to leave my daughter and my daughter's daughter

  • a better and cleaner place than I found it,

  • so I have not only stopped overordering,

  • I recycle religiously as well.

  • And you can, too. It's not difficult.

  • Before we fill our shopping carts and our landfills

  • with extra items that we don't want,

  • let's pause next time we are shopping online

  • and think twice about what we all hopefully really do want:

  • a beautiful Earth to call home.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Hi. My name is Aparna.

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B1 US TED item returned online shopping retailer

【TED】Aparna Mehta: Where do your online returns go? (Where do your online returns go? | Aparna Mehta)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/12/13
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