Furniture returns are a nightmare for consumers

If you are sitting in a chair while reading this sentence, consider this question: What will happen to the chair when you no longer need it or want it no longer? It will likely end up in the trash, unless you choose to recycle, donate, or sell it.

Americans generate more than 12 million tons of furniture waste (sofas, mattresses, chairs, tables, etc.) annually according to 2018 data, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Over 80% of them end up in landfills.

At the same time, supply chain delays are wreaking havoc with American buyers, including expensive furniture. A customer who purchases a custom sofa online today can expect to wait three to six months – or more – for delivery.

The growing activity of furniture returns

The good news is that there is a movement to change both sides of this problem, which aims to provide retailers with a dual solution that handles their bulky returns while simultaneously powering a reCommerce business. This solution is the work of FloorFound, an Austin, TX-based tech company, a two-year-old startup that seeks to keep bulky furniture out of landfills while helping its retail partners deal with two major headaches. – and also to reverse the waste.

FloorFound – which recently partnered with Joybird, a unit of La-z-Boy Incorporated, to help consumers sustainably eliminate unwanted furniture – provides retailers with the tools they need to salvage and resell goods from a environmentally friendly way. FloorFound’s dozen other partner brands include Feather, Floyd, Castlery, Inside Weather and Sabai.

This business model – once limited to clothing and small luxury items – is a given for brands like ThredUP, Patagonia and Urban Outfitters. But large items (like furniture, as well as appliances or exercise equipment) have been extremely difficult to ship, return, store, and ultimately resell and reship … until now.

FloorFound, which may have cracked the code on how to pull a sofa out of one person’s world and into someone else’s to maximize the uptime of each product, allows retailers to streamline an expensive and complicated returns process. It’s a solution that includes all aspects of the customer: transportation, inspection, processing and warehouse storage – then a whole new customer transaction, ultimately delivering anywhere in the United States.

Like Chris Richter, CEO and founder of FloorFound, told PYMNTS, direct-to-consumer (D2C) furniture retailers like Joybird, Floyd and (new this week) Burrow credit their reCommerce programs with generating new revenue and new customers. What became very clear to Richter initially was the return value proposition – turning returns into resale. As for FloorFound’s work with Floyd to launch a branded reCommerce storefront, they’ve already seen an 80% reduction in overall carbon emissions for online rides and an average gross recovery of 72%. The average time to sell is eight days.

Richter himself was frustrated when he wanted to buy furniture after renovating a house and couldn’t buy anything from a retail store that could be delivered in less than two or three months. He liked the soil samples. “Why can’t I buy these products from the website now? He wondered. “Why don’t they share this with a national audience? “

“So I kind of put all these points together and I said, ‘What are retailers missing today? Well, they miss the sale of those resale items that are in their possession.

From problem to potential

Most buyers – 92%, Richter said, citing a FloorFound survey – have already purchased resale online, primarily on Facebook Marketplace, The RealReal, Poshmark, and others. “We are not trying to generalize buy-back,” he said. “It’s a smart thing to do, because otherwise [products] go to landfills.

“It was very clear that the only way for us to get retailers to embrace this en masse is to change the economy around returns,” noted Richter. FloorFound now has a national network with around 30 warehouses.

Reach new audiences

For Millennial and Gen Z buyers, resale furniture is appealing. With rising inflation for goods like furniture, cars, shelter and food – the bare essentials of life – young consumers are now grappling with high prices on goods “for the first time. since they are old enough to notice it “, according to The New York Times. FloorFound (literally) doing the heavy lifting drives this process.

“Let’s say a customer is in California, buys a sofa and wants to return it. The customer files with us what we call a “reCommerce” request: a notification that they have this item that can be added to our e-commerce inventory, but needs to be picked up from that customer. They just drop it into our system and then we take care of everything else at the end, ”Richter explained.

“So there is no elevator on their side. We’ve taken the headache out of trying to coordinate with the customer and trying to ensure a good customer experience for the return pickup. We manage it all and where to send it – like it’s picked up in California, it goes back to our location in California. This therefore reduces the carbon footprint of transport.

New opportunities

It is common for destruction rates to be high for returns and for recovery rates to be lower than expected. Even though the return dilemma is pervasive in the retail industry, most sellers of bulky and bulky items have yet to jump on the bandwagon and are missing out on an opportunity to mix furniture with reCommerce while at the same time. also appealing to customer sensitivities for the preservation of the planet. .



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About Roberto Frank

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