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Prepare for the busiest retail season of the year | Smarter Sorting

How to prepare for the busiest retail (and returns) season of the year

We all try to find the perfect gift for our family and friends. But sometimes we miss the mark.

As your last minute holiday shopping is wrapping up, you pick up a fresh, new scent for your aunt that you just know she’s going to love–after all, it smells great! On Christmas day, you watch with anticipation as she rummages through the tissue paper. She “oohs” and “aahs,” upon seeing the bottle, and immediately spritzes her neck a few times. But to your dismay, it turns out your aunt is sensitive to specific fragrance compounds, and that particular scent begins to irritate her skin.

Looks like she’ll be in the return line after the holidays–and she won’t be alone. Almost everyone knows someone who is sensitive to fragrance, and this is just one outcome of your well-intentioned gift-giving abilities. In fact, holiday returns have increased for 8 years straight, with approximately 9 million packages returned in the first week of January alone. So, in this case, where does that perfume go once it has been returned? 

It’s as easy as UPC

Because the fragrance has been opened, the store associate determines it to be unsalable. Thus, it heads to the back of the store. A quick scan of the barcode reveals its composition and disposal requirements, thanks to Smarter Sorting’s software.

This particular fragrance is 60% ethyl alcohol by weight and has a flashpoint of 80.6 °F, making it a flammable liquid. By this characteristic alone, we know your aunt’s perfume is regulated under the D001 federal waste code for ignitable hazardous waste as well as several state waste codes, such as the CA 343 code for unspecified organic liquid mixture. 

And so Smarter Sorting instantly lets the retail associate handling waste diversions that the returned perfume must be managed on-site as hazardous waste. Next up for the associate, a customer returns a box of cereal. Good news for that return, Smarter Sorting instantly lets the associate know it can be donated to the local food bank, and doesn’t need to go to landfill.

With a simple scan of the barcode, the power of our product data meets the real world. The Smarter Sorting platform combs through thousands of regulations and retailer's business rules that apply to each product, enabling associates to handle and dispose of every product safely and in compliance, every time. 

Hazardous waste is a reality and common challenge across many industries

Lots of beauty and personal care products are formulated with chemicals that are regulated as hazardous waste. In order to properly prepare for the uptick in sales and returns that the holiday brings, you and retailers need to understand the chemical and physical properties behind your products’ ingredients. 

Violating hazardous waste disposal regulations can be a costly mistake with up to millions in fines. Companies large and small struggle to make sure that workers are handling, storing and disposing of unsaleable products in a safe and compliant way. Even eco-conscious retailers like Whole Foods have found themselves in trouble, indicating  that no retailer is immune from these concerns. Aside from fines, violating these regulations can also lead to negative publicity, dropped contacts, and the loss of consumers who value environmentally-friendly practices.

Review your retailer agreements

At Smarter Sorting, we know time spent going back and forth about product chemistry, ingredients, and documentation is time that products are losing out in the sales cycle. That’s why we’ve designed our system to allow suppliers to enter product data in less than 5 minutes. And why we provide classifications in 3 business days or less, often within 24 hours. 

With just a few product details from suppliers, we can handle product classifications for all (local, state, and federal) waste and transportation regulations, and share those insights with our retail partners–so they can best handle the perfume returned by your aunt.

Add Smarter Sorting to your wish list

With fall underway and the busiest retail season of the year around the corner, it’s important to review your retailer agreements and get all those potentially regulated products registered. Retailers have already ordered products for the upcoming holiday season and are ready to craft those shiny holiday displays. We want to make sure your product is sitting on top. 

So go ahead, knock a few things off your holiday list and find out why our brands, suppliers, and retailers love Smarter Sorting!  If you’re a new brand, excited to get your first products on shelves at one of our retail partners, we can help guide you through what’s required and ensure  your products are classified quickly and efficiently.  

If you’re already one of our 1800+ supplier and brand partners, you know we’re always here when you need us - making compliance easier than ever before.  No matter the case, reach out and connect with our Customer Support team. With a quick email or call, we can make sure you're on the road to a compliant and worry-free holiday season and a great start to the new year.