ATLANTA: December 22, 2016. UPS has invested in Optoro, a technology company that helps retailers and manufacturers manage, process and sell returned and excess inventory.
UPS, which hasn't revealed the size of its stake, has joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Revolution Growth, Generation Investment Management LLP, Tenfore Holdings, Swan & Legend Venture Partners and the Maryland Venture Fund in a new US$30 million funding round.
The investment combines UPS's operational and logistics expertise with Optoro's software platform that aims to maximize recovery value while reducing environmental waste, according to the company.
Using data analytics and multi-channel online marketing, Optoro determines the best path for each item while leveraging marketplaces across major digital platforms that include Amazon, eBay and Optoro's own BLINQ.com and BULQ.com retail websites.
"Retailers are facing a growing number of challenges, with the rise of customer returns being one of the most prominent, totaling over US$260 billion in value annually in the U.S.," said to Optoro co-founder and CEO Tobin Moore.
Optoro's returns expertise was recognized this year with the World Economic Forum's Circular Economy Award: "We are bringing innovation to a decades-old industry and disrupting the outdated retail returns process," declared company president Adam Vitarello. "Our current form of consumerism, buying and discarding items, is not sustainable. Our mission is to find a good home for every item, helping divert them from landfills and create a more circular and productive economy."
Traditionally, returned and excess items are shipped multiple times over the course of several months before reaching an end consumer, losing value and creating unnecessary pollution. During this process goods are often discarded through damage and end up in landfills. According to Optoro, In the U.S. alone this process creates four billion pounds of waste, uses 1.2 billion gallons of diesel fuel, and produces 12 million tonnes of CO2 from transportation.
UPS's busiest day of the year for returns will be January 5, 2017 when shoppers are expected to return 1.3 million packages, while over 5.8 million will be returned during the first full week of January.