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Home » Aparna Mehta: Where Do Your Online Returns Go? (Transcript)

Aparna Mehta: Where Do Your Online Returns Go? (Transcript)

Aparna Mehta

UPS’s Aparna Mehta works with the top-tier retail customers to develop innovative, profitable solutions that enhance customer experiences.

Below is the full text of her TED Talk titled “Where Do Your Online Returns go?



Hi. My name is Aparna.

I am a shopaholic and I’m addicted to online returns.

Well, at least I was.

At one time, I had two or three packages of clothing delivered to me every other day. I would intentionally buy the same item in a couple different sizes and many colors, because I did not know what I really wanted.

So I over-ordered, I tried things on, and then I sent what didn’t work back.

Once my daughter was watching me return some of those packages back, and she said, “Mom, I think you have a problem.”

I didn’t think so. I mean, it’s free shipping and free returns, right? I didn’t even think twice about it, until I heard a statistic at work that shocked me.

You see, I’m a global solutions director for top-tier retail, and we were in a meeting with one of my largest customers, discussing how to streamline costs. One of their biggest concerns was managing returns.

Just this past holiday season alone, they had 75 million pieces of clothing returned to them. I could not stop thinking about it. What happens to all these returned clothes?

So I came home and researched.

And I learned that every year, 4 billion pounds of returned clothing ends up in the landfill. That’s like every resident in the U.S. did a load of laundry last night and decided to throw it in the trash today.

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