Fashion Tech Tackling The Unsustainable Rate Of Returns
Sustainability is vital to the supply chain across all areas of retail. From supplier relationships to finding the best way to ship products, the entire industry looks at sustainable practices. We’re not just making green additions to businesses — we’re making significant changes on a group level to save our planet from climate change.
Being a store owner is very difficult, especially when you are constantly inundated with new product demands. It’s a never-ending battle against the ever-changing consumer. As a result, up to 20% of clothing goes unsold and is often incinerated or thrown away. Even worse, returned goods amount to more than 5 billion pounds of waste in landfills each year. That’s the equivalent of every north American family doing a load of laundry and throwing it away.
This past month, CNBC published a video highlighting how technology and big data can help reduce the amount of excess inventory produced each year.
In this segment, we’ll talk about how data will resolve the most critical issues facing the industry.
A changing Industry
To compete with other fast-fashion retailers, brands are releasing their new collections more frequently. While some brands may release few new collections a year, others are releasing new designs every week.
Unfortunately, with the increased effort to get the word out about new inventory and products, retailers and brands have been working on overdrive, which has resulted in overall waste in the apparel and footwear industry. If a product does not appeal to customers, brands are forced to heavily discount it or destroy it. This is a concerning issue for businesses and consumers alike.
Retailers have been known to burn items that have not sold. The reason behind this environmentally destructive act is to maintain a positive brand image and to destroy unwanted products. As a result, greenhouse gases have been emitted into the atmosphere.
Advanced tech for sustainability
Today, it’s crucial for retailers to understand the shoppers’ needs and their path to eventually make a purchase. To better understand their shoppers, retailers employ data collection and artificial intelligence to reveal more about consumer behaviours and what drives them to buy and keep their product.
When retailers have access to suitable data types, they can produce the right kinds of products. In turn, excess inventory goes down, and retailers can anticipate what their customers want.
Returns have long been the nemesis of the direct-to-consumer industry. A disturbing trend is happening in the fashion industry. According to stats, approximately 30 to 40 percent of clothing bought online is returned. This number has skyrocketed over the years as more people become accustomed to shopping online.
Retailers are in a more powerful position to plan and forecast inventory if they know what consumers want and need. When products are introduced to consumers at the right time in the correct quantity, excess inventory will be eradicated, and the consumers will find what they love and keep on the first go around.