Amazon destroys millions of unsold items every year

A British ITV investigation recently revealed that Amazon destroys millions of unsold items every year.

Most of these products are new and unused. These are unsold or returned products.

What did the survey reveal?

An investigation by ITV News from 2021 reveals images from Amazon’s UK warehouses, where millions of unsold products are destroyed every year. Following the outcry over the video, Boris Johnson (Prime Minister at the time) promised an investigation into the practices.

The enquiry found that around 130,000 items were destroyed each week in a single fulfilment center at one of Amazon’s largest warehouses in the country, in Dunfermline, Scotland. Every year, “millions of perfectly good items are thrown away to be destroyed”, revealed ITV, which has obtained footage secretly filmed in the “destruction room”.

Destroyed products included smart TVs, laptops, drones, hairdryers, high-end headphones, computer disks, books galore, thousands of sealed face masks.

This is due to Amazon’s business model:

Amazon’s business model

With a large number of sellers selling the same products, there is very little differentiation in some categories and therefore the order in which products are listed on a page becomes an important driver of sales.

Amazon uses its algorithm to establish the ranking order in order to provide the most relevant and optimised listings to customers at the top.

There is a lot of competition between sellers, so it is imperative for them to make accurate demand forecasts and stock the right number of units in the distribution centres.

If demand is underestimated, sellers lose potential sales and may also lose money by advertising on Amazon.

If demand is overpriced, the seller not only loses money on unsold inventory but also has to pay Amazon for storage and shipping costs for returning products.

Indeed, many sellers house their products in Amazon’s warehouses. But the longer the goods remain unsold, the more the seller has to pay to store them. In the end, it is cheaper to get rid of the goods than to continue storing them.

What can we do?

Avoid Amazon as much as possible and choose smaller, responsible companies.

Ask around and be sure that there are local artisans and small businesses that produce what you are looking for in an artisanal way.

If you are looking for a book, go to a bookstore and you will be advised by an enthusiast, and it is much more ecological.

Also think about second hand! For clothes, go to a thrift shop. If you are looking for toys for your children for example, go to flea markets or garage sales.

Don’t buy more than you need and say to yourself, “If it doesn’t fit or look good, I can return it”. Be aware that returns are often destroyed.

Source : ITV.