Saturday, June 29, 2013

Repent with Recycling

Hennes & Mauritz, better known as H&M, is rolling out a program to all of its stores to accept used clothing of any brand for discount credits on new purchases. The idea isn’t new. Many retailers accept used merchandise in this way. Still, the H&M motivations and program rules are instructive.
     According to Bloomberg Businessweek, one motivation for the program is to give H&M shoppers back feelings of social conscientiousness. Among apparel retailers, H&M had had the highest amount of clothing made in Bangladesh, the site of over 1,000 garment worker deaths in factory building collapses earlier this year.
     Then there was the incident a few years ago: A graduate student at City University of New York found bags of unused H&M clothing on the streets of New York. It turned out that staff at the 34th Street store had taken box cutters and razors to excess merchandise and then trashed the remains.
      Why weren’t these clothes donated to charity? How could the fingers be cut off gloves and insulation ripped from jackets at a time when NYC had been struggling to open up shelter space for the homeless in the face of freezing winter temperatures? Outrage exploded in the media and across the internet. Considering that H&M has stores in about 35 countries, reaction was international.
     H&M replied that over the prior year, they had donated about 500,000 clothing items to myriad charitable organizations. A spokeswoman said destroying unsold clothing was against company policy, she was unaware that it was being done, and the company would check to be sure no other H&M stores were doing it.
     The outrage over the incident faded over time, but did not disappear. It was mentioned in another recent Bloomberg Businessweek piece.
     There are times you might choose to use recycling as repentance. If so, check that it also makes good business sense.
     First, in the rules for the program. The H&M configuration gives a 10% to 17% discount on a subsequent purchase. This is well within acceptable ranges for other types of promotional discounts. To prevent the discount moving to unacceptable heights, restrict the shopper from using another discount on top of the recycling voucher.
     Second, take care when giving away merchandise: The unscrupulous could get hold of items and try to return them for store credit. If the donated merchandise works its way to potential customers, this would undercut sales.

Click below for more: 
Honor Social Responsibility 
Aim to Donate, Not Destroy, Merchandise 
Trash Ineffective Appeals to Recycle 
Consider Having Resale Merchandise

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