Ikea has taken a minority stake in Optoro, an American start-up that develops software aimed at making returns more efficient. The investment fits in with the objective of the Swedish retailer to be a circular company by 2030.
Optoro's technology will initially be implemented in ten distribution centres, fifty stores, and Ikea's customer service centre in the United States, but it may well be expanded in the future. The platform streamlines the return flow and improves the customer experience.
"We are on a mission to become a circular business by 2030 and we need partners like Optoro who can help us achieve our goals", Chief Sustainability Officer Javier Quiñones said in a press release. "Optoro's platform would enable us to eliminate much of the waste created in the reverse supply chain, from minimizing the CO2 emissions released in return shipping to finding the best next homes for returned items."
Returns are a growing challenge for retailers: they are not only expensive, but can also cause logistical problems and have a major impact on the environment. The National Retail Federation has calculated that, in the United States alone, the total of goods returned annually amounts to 400 billion dollars (360 billion euros). Moreover, many of the returned products end up in landfills or are destroyed.