Saturday, October 16, 2021

The cost of free returns in online shopping.

This is a fascinating article on what happens to all those online returns, and it isn't pretty. The benefit of modern life is that we can operate at scale, which leads to efficiencies and hence lower costs. Most of what we do to get goods into our hands has been optimized to be more efficient. And we can see this trend coming back as a result of the pandemic, as restaurants streamline their menus to make things more efficient. In engineering we have a saying, "make the common case fast". Well returns, are not the common case, and they are not optimized in any meaningful way.

So this has a cost in almost every way, cost to make the goods, cost to ship the goods, cost to dispose the goods. And all those costs include environmental and carbon cost. 

Convenience is the bogeyman of our modern age, and it's leading us to an unsustainable path. However, convenience is like crack, super addictive. Can we break the habit, or just cut back a little?


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