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IKEA implements returns management tech to streamline ‘circular’ business model

IKEA is partnering with a start-up to help it manage the reselling of and waste from returns.

Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores, announced it had participated in a funding round for returns optimisation technology provider Optoro.

IKEA US will implement Optoro’s technology in 10 IKEA distribution centres, 50 retail stores and its US customer support centre. The technology allows retailers to manage and then resell returned and excess merchandise using data analytics and machine learning.

The partnership may expand to some of IKEA’s other markets in the future, it said.

IKEA wants to become a “circular business” by 2030, where everything that is produced is reused and recycled for as long as possible.
Javier Quiñones, president and chief sustainability officer of IKEA Retail US, said: “We’re on a mission to become a circular business by 2030, and we need partners like Optoro who can help us achieve our goals.

“Optoro’s solution will enable us to eliminate much of the waste created in the reverse supply chain, from minimizing the carbon emissions released in return shipping to finding the best next homes for returned items.”

Tobin Moore, CEO and cofounder of Optoro, said: “We are thrilled to partner with IKEA Retail, a global leader in designing a more sustainable retail future.

“IKEA shares our mission of looking to innovation and technology to build the circular economy. Through our work together, we will be able to make an even larger impact on reducing waste from returns, while also improving the customer experience to help fuel ecommerce growth.”