Returns Go to a Good Cause
Cosmetics manufacturer cosnova has launched the "Rescue our Returns" initiative. The company aims to prevent returned cosmetics products from being disposed of while at the same time supporting good causes. Leona Fischer, the project's initiator and Junior Community Manager at cosnova, tells us more.
Ms Fischer, what motivated you to set up "Rescue our Returns"?
The initiative was based on the realisation that products ordered in our essence and Catrice online shops cannot be resold for logistical and economic reasons. Shipments that have already been opened must be disposed of due to hygiene regulations. However, we are talking here about unopened packages containing products that have never been touched. An example of this is when a parcel could not be delivered because the recipient did not accept it. To avoid the destruction of products as far as possible, we formed a working group of colleagues from various departments to develop a solution.
What was the solution that you came up with?
Once every three months, we hold an in-house sale where staff members can purchase returned products. For a small fee, they have the option to purchase "surprise bags" containing numerous products. The proceeds from these sales go to a good cause. On average, between 1,000 and 1,500 products are sold this way. The event currently takes place at our cosnova headquarters where over 500 people work. "Rescue our Returns" has been very well received so we are already considering extending it. Ideas include selling the bags at other companies in the local area.
Which specific causes do you donate the proceeds to?
One example is "Christmas trees on wheels" ("Tannenbäumchen auf Rädern"). This project brings some festive cheer to elderly people living alone in Frankfurt. Volunteers pay them a visit, surprise them with a small Christmas tree and spend time with them.
How many products have you already been able to rescue with this initiative?
The response to our first sale of returned goods was overwhelming. We had around 300 bags and managed to sell almost all of them, raising a considerable sum of money for a good cause. So far, our campaign has enabled us to rescue over 2,000 products from our online shop. However, my colleagues and I were committed to rescuing products even before this particular initiative was launched. We saved tens of thousands of items last year. They were donated. The great thing now is that all the products can be collected in one place and used to support a good cause.
What happens to the products that remain unsold at your sales outlet?
We keep them for the next sale. Should the level of interest in our product bags fall in the future, we plan to donate the products to aid organisations and social initiatives. We remain committed to our main goal of avoiding unnecessary product disposal wherever possible.
How can returns of cosmetics products be reduced or even avoided?
As a highly digitised company with a strong focus on sustainability, we are continually exploring new ideas on this. One example is the “Virtual Try-On” we provide for our essence and Catrice brands. This allows customers to virtually test how various products look on their skin and even try out entire looks. We also have a tool called "Foundation Finder" on those websites that provides make-up recommendations based on skin type and desired performance. Both tools have resulted in fewer bad buys, which ultimately leads to fewer returns.