John-David Klausner, SVP of Business Development & Strategic Alliances at Loop, explores remaining sustainable while growing a business overseas.

Many growing brands list expanding internationally as a key driver of their growth in the years ahead. But, as any brand who has gone through this transformation can attest, becoming a truly “global” brand is no simple task. 

What are the challenges for businesses when it comes to cross border expansions? How can brands overcome them?

Brands looking to expand internationally face a number of challenges, from navigating unfamiliar markets to language gaps to dealing with complex logistics. 

This is where Cross-Border commerce solutions like Global-E, Shopify Markets Pro, FlavorCloud, and others come into play. They seek to help brands streamline not only their cross-border logistics solutions (both outbound and returns), but also every other area where an international shopper may interact with their brand. 

This includes key functionality like site translation, support for local currencies and payment methods, compliance with local tax and regulatory requirements, market insights and region-specific research, and support for local shipping providers and regional carriers. They can provide a full service that can help businesses navigate the complicated challenges that international expansion can bring.

What impact are returns having on the environment?

It’s no secret that retail returns are a big environmental problem. 23 million returned garments were sent to landfill or incinerated last year in the UK, which generates 750,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions, according to a report from The British Fashion Council’s Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF) from March 2023. 

All of that returned inventory has to go somewhere, and often, it simply cannot be restocked. Despite online retailers’ best efforts to convey size and colour, it’s still difficult to know if an item fits, so an unfortunate number of online clothes returns end up in the landfill. Not to mention the carbon footprint involved in shipping items back and forth, all over the world. 

Returns of all kinds have a steep impact on the environment, but fashion brands in particular struggle with staying sustainable, in part thanks to consumer practices like bracketing (ordering more than one product with the intention of returning all but their favourite).

Despite this, eco-friendly returns options matter to consumers. 

According to internal data from Loop, the leading post-purchase platform,  consumers do pay very close attention to the sustainability of the brands they shop with. 88% of shoppers agree that eco-friendly return options make them more likely to shop again. 

Sustainable returns policies?

Providing sustainable return options taps into consumer values and builds brand loyalty, and should be a key priority for brands to stay relevant and increase customer acquisition and retention. 73% of shoppers also regularly review a retailer’s return policy to gauge their sustainability levels and more than half of consumers (56%) care about the environmental impact of returns “somewhat” or “a lot”. 

Over a third (35%) of consumers have opted out of returning a product due to the potential environmental impact (I.E. the possibility of the returned product ending up in a landfill). 13% of shoppers will go as far as not purchasing from a retailer at all if they do not offer eco-friendly returns options.

How can retailers respond to sustainability concerns?

Luckily, there are plenty of ways that brands can address the environmental concerns around returns, particularly clothes retailers who are dealing with large scale returns. Retailers that automate their returns through a returns management platform like Loop, allow brands to offer more eco-friendly options like consolidated return shipping and resale options for example.

  • Consolidating return shipments helps shipping providers take fewer trips, which reduces pollution (and costs). By partnering with shipping services like ReBound, you can gain access to a global logistics network, securing competitive shipping rates and a return consolidation engine to further cut down reverse logistics costs.  
  • Offering the option to keep an item rather than returning it remains popular as brands look to increase their sustainability efforts and cut down on shipping costs. Many brands leverage this option when an item value is worth less than the cost of a shipping label, or if the item is simply not something that can be refurbished or restocked. The ‘Keep Item’ feature allows merchants to forego return shipping costs and provide the shopper with a pleasant return experience. The savings depend on how often the merchant chooses to use Keep Item, but on average it saves our merchants about $10K on shipping per year. 
  • Brands can also choose to route items to a different (closer) destination if returned items don’t need to go back to the warehouse. Not only does this help cut down on shipping time (and the related environmental impact), it also helps brands save on shipping costs, too. 
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  • Sustainability

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