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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thinking Outside Pandora’s Box

Amazon (AMZN) has patented a new return process.

“So what” you say.

Well, consider the following:

What if I said you could not only find out what gifts others are getting you, but you could then “return” those gifts before they were ever sent!

Or, if you could set up some sort of rule that tells Amazon to always return or exchange for a gift certificate any gift that your dear old (insert random friend or relative here) happens to send you.

You could even set up a rule to send an ecard thank you note for the gift that was ordered but never received.

From a business perspective, this is great!

From a personalized “I was thinking of you and got you this gift because I like you” perspective, this is not so great.

After all, anybody who has kids, was a kid or even still is a kid, knows the importance of gift giving and making others feel good. You know, “it’s always better to give than to receive” and giving gifts helps show others that you care and are thinking of them. And this is a good thing.

But, according to some studies, up to 30% of all gifts are returned. This represents a huge amount of time, effort and expense that people and businesses have to deal with.

Imagine, from a financial business point of view, if you could come up with a way to save up to 30% of the costs associated with everyday business processes; From packaging, mailing, shipping and receiving, transacting and refunding; your bosses and stock holders would love you.

And probably get you a gift . . . ;-)

But here is another financial thought. . .

Would those potential amazon stock holders continue to be so happy if they were also stock holders of UPS or FedEx?

If we are talking about 30% of all gifts returned, then it could be safe to assume, especially with large online e-retailers such as Amazon, that for every 100 gifts shipped via UPS and FedEx, 30 are shipped back. With this new process, we could be talking about a lot less business for the shipping industry.

Or back to the whole gift giving and return process. . .

What if you are like us and do a lot of online shopping and have the gifts sent to yourself so that you know it arrives in good condition, wrap it, and personally give the gift to your intended recipient? Would you want that person to know ahead of time? And stop the shipment?

Or if you saw that you were going to be getting a sweater you really did not like but knew that you would be at that persons house party next week and "the right thing to do" would be to wear it in a show of appreciation.

Would "returning" it before it even shipped be appropriate?

I actually like the fact that Amazon is thinking outside the box and being creative and looking for new ways to do things.

This new patented return process has a lot of good, and bad, potential. Like most new inventions, it will be all in the way it is used that will ultimately determine it’s usefulness and impact.

What do you think? Good, Bad or indifferent?

You can find out about Amazon's new patented return process here.

The inspiration for this post can be found here at the Washington Post .


Beth December 30, 2010 at 10:25 PM  

I would rather a person return a gift I got them than to keep it and never use it. I try to give gift receipts so if they do want to return, they can get the true value of it, and so they can get something they like and/or want.

This year I tried convincing the in-laws to give my kids gift certificates to Wal Mart, because then I tell my kids I will buy their gift cards and they can spend the money wherever they wish, instead of being locked into a certain store. But my MIL got him a Kmart gift certificate, ugh! I don't shop there!!

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