Retail Returns: Where Do They All Go?


Easy Returns Are Great for Shoppers. However…

If you’ve never thought about what happens to purchases you’ve returned — whether it’s that scarf that you meant to give as a gift before your (now ex)-SO broke your heart, or those bookshelf speakers that didn’t fit into your bookshelf after all — you’re not alone.

Smart consumers are demanding generous and flexible returns policies; and to ensure loyalty and customer satisfaction, retailers are offering them. The ability to purchase, try out, and return items easily not only makes people feel more comfortable about buying, it ensures they get exactly what they want. But the flip side of easy retail returns is a flood of returned inventory that often has no place to go.

In 2015 alone, Americans returned more than $260 billion in goods. While shoppers may assume that undamaged and perfectly good merchandise ends up right back on the shelf, that’s not usually what happens. What does happen, instead, is a shocking amount of waste.

…Retail Returns Often Go to Waste

Optoro, a reverse logistics software provider, estimates that only 50% of returned goods go back into store inventory.

Here’s how it typically goes. Let’s say you buy a 55” TV, take it out of the box, and then realize you actually have space for a 60” display. You bring the 55” TV back to the store to exchange it for the bigger size (and, heck, while you’re at it, you upgrade to 4k). So, what happens to your now-returned TV?

Since you’ve already opened the box, the store can’t easily put the 55” television back on the floor. They also likely don’t have the capacity (or the desire) to test the TV to make sure it still works. And they certainly can’t sell it as new again alongside their other brand new inventory.

So, what often happens is the TV ends up in a corner in the storeroom, alongside all the other returned and forgotten items — and it sits there gathering dust (and potentially damage).

At some point, the store manager needs to clear out that space. He auctions off all those goods to a liquidator, and in return gets pennies on the dollar. Any goods that are still left behind typically end up in a landfill.

That’s Where BLINQ Comes In

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. And for a growing number of retailers, this story is no longer the case.

Instead of liquidating or throwing out perfectly good merchandise — like that 55” TV — a growing number of Fortune 500 retailers are now working through channels like to connect these like-new retail returns with consumers who are excited at idea of buying open box or refurbished goods for way-below-retail prices.

Rather than end up in a landfill, these retail returns are professionally inspected by BLINQ technicians when they come back from the customer, and assigned a condition: brand new, open-box, factory refurbished or used and in very good condition (learn more about our conditions here). This gives you, the consumer, the option to choose your condition, and your deal.

Buy Smart, and Feel Good About Your Purchase

Returns are now an entrenched way of shopping and doing business — and that’s fantastic for consumers! For retailers, it remains a unique challenge. Here at BLINQ, we’re passionate about working towards a better solution for retailers, consumers, and the environment.

So, whether you’re a savvy shopper looking for new ways to save, or an eco-conscious shopper loyal to companies with sustainability initiatives, you can feel good knowing that when you buy with BLINQ, you’re saving money, reducing unnecessary waste, and supporting a more sustainable way to shop.


Author: Melanie

Melanie joined the BLINQ team in early 2014, inspired by the brand’s passion for helping consumers find great deals. Issues she feels strongly about include literacy, budgeting, and the difference between hyphens, en-dashes and em-dashes. P.s. Melanie doesn’t trust people who don’t appreciate that there’s a difference between nerds, geeks and dorks.

2 thoughts on “Retail Returns: Where Do They All Go?

  1. AvatarLisa Gallegos


    1. AvatarEmily

      Hi Lisa, we’d love to help you out if you have any questions about your order! Please give our Customer Care team a call at 1-888-803-7768, or email at Thanks!

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