STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - IKEA, the world's biggest furniture group, said on Wednesday it had bought a minority stake in U.S. tech startup Optoro whose software helps retailers manage returns in a more efficient way.
Growing return volumes as shopping moves online are an increasing headache for retailers as they are costly, pose logistical challenges and negatively affect the environment.
Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores and e-commerce worldwide, said it would roll out Optoro's reverse logistics technology to distribution centres, stores and its customer support centre in the United States, and was looking to take it to other markets.
The U.S. is Ingka's second-biggest market after Germany, with 13% of group sales last year.
The technology would streamline return flows and help reduce waste from returns, it said in a statement.
"Optoro’s solution will enable us to eliminate much of the waste created in the reverse supply chain, from minimizing the carbon emissions released in return shipping to finding the best next homes for returned items," it said.
An Ingka spokesman declined to unveil the size of the investment.
(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)