Inside a Liquidation Center, where retail returns are sold

  • According to the NRF report, Americans will return more that $816 billion worth merchandise by 2022. 
  • Many large retailers use an outside service to assist with returns processing.
  • Insider was shown how liquidation warehouse operator Inmar Intelligence works.

In the middle of Pennsylvania’s booming warehouse district, the Lehigh Valley, one 300,000 square foot warehouse is full of apparel, personal care products, holiday decorations, rugs, and thousands of random items — most of which have already been delivered, and then returned. 

During a tour of the facility, Curtis Greve (vice president of operations at Inmar Intelligence), stated that “we get this truckload of different stuff, and then we have to accurately account it and separate it out.” 

Inmar’s goal to maximize the profit on those items is to determine where they can be sent, whether it’s back to the shop, to an outlet, discount seller, or donating them. In less than 1% of cases, responsibly disposing of them. 

Greve stated, “If you go back in the 80’s before central returns really started taking root, most of this stuff ended-up getting thrown out.” 

According to a veteran in the industry, returns have made great strides over the past few decades. For a long time, they were an afterthought — a nuisance to retailers that piled up in a corner. Most major retailers now recognize that proactive handling returns can help brand reputation and bottom line. 

“Especially in categories such as apparel and footwear, which have high return rates,” stated Thomas Borders, Inmar’s VP and general manger. “It’s more than how you feel when you buy the product. But it’s also about how seamless that returns experience is for me. 

Retailers need help from companies such Asmar, which has 27 warehouses handling returns throughout the country. The goal is to get sellable goods back in stock as soon as possible. 

Greve stated, “It’s ugly and it’s difficult, and it isn’t intuitive.” “Retailers are used to shipping things out — filling stores and sending out orders. He explained that receiving returns is a completely different process. “We have the best practices. We have the technology. Manufacturers and retailers don’t want their resources to be invested in developing them.”

Tony Sciarrotta of the Reverse Logistics Association stated to Insider that there are a number of options. dearth of processing capacity in the US marketThis is especially true when it comes to the human labor required to inspect and ensure that items are suitable for resale. 

Here’s how Inmar works.

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