Retail businesses are constantly finding new ways to bombard customers with things to buy. But as online shopping platforms grow, more and more products are getting returned to warehouses. Many of these items, regardless of whether they work or not, end up in a landfill because big companies just don’t have the workforce or the space to hold onto and resell them. That’s where the new shopping platform BLINQ comes in.
BLINQ is the consumer-facing retail platform for a return logistics company called Optoro. That’s a fancy way of saying that Optoro helps big-box retailers (its client list includes companies like Target, Best Buy, Staples, BJs, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Jet.com and others) manage and resell the items that customers return. The hope is that by reselling and/or recycling these returns, BLINQ can reduce the nearly five billion pounds of trash that ends up in landfills, along with 15 million tons of carbon dioxide that ends up in the atmosphere as a result of the disposal.
But can you save the planet and still get a great deal by shopping at BLINQ? We decided to give the site a test run to find out.
Does BLINQ Actually Reduce Retail Waste Going to Landfills?
It’s hard to say, but according to a 2018 report by Optoro, they do. The company says that in 2018 its machine-learning AI helped retailers divert more than 1.4 million tons of returned and discarded items from the landfill and back into consumers hands. Optoro also reports that through its certified recycling programs, it has helped recycle 179,000 pounds of products that had reached end-of-life.
And according to a story over at CNBC, UPS reported that in December alone 1 million returns were made daily leading up to Christmas. So while we were not able to independently verify Optoro’s numbers, there’s no doubt that the retail-return-trash problem is tremendous.
How BLINQ Works
Most items have a stock image along with a “list price,” percentage off, and the price you’ll pay on BLINQ. In most cases, the list price is what you can expect to pay on platforms like Amazon for a new, unopened item.
Most of the deals range from 12% up to 70% off depending on what you are purchasing and its condition. Also, note that supplies are limited. The company stocks anywhere from a few dozen of each item to just one.
You can shop by brand, category, price and even condition, which ranges from brand new, like new – open box, and “used – very good.”
Overall Cost and Savings when Purchasing from BLINQ
For this story, I purchased a like-new open box Breville Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor, and a pair of Sony Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones that were also in like-new open box condition.
The list price on BLINQ for the juicer was $149.99, which matches the retail price for a new, unopened juicer at places like Williams-Sonoma, Best Buy and Amazon.
By ordering through BLINQ, I got the juicer for $107.79 — a savings of 28%. I was a little wary since the item didn’t have an image attached to it, but figured that it was worth the gamble.
The Sony headphones had a list price of $65.99 on BLINQ, while places like Best Buy, and Sony.com listed them at $99.99. Based on the higher cost, I saved 42% by getting the headphones for $57.49.
Depending on where you live, you may have to pay sales tax. My taxes cost me an additional $15.70, but the good news is that BLINQ offers free shipping with no minimum.
The Unboxing — Some Good, Some Gross
BLINQ says that shipping can take anywhere from two to six days. Mine, unfortunately, took the full six days to arrive.
Inside, the items were packed neatly with earth-friendly airbags to ensure that nothing got damaged in shipping.
From the outside, both the juicer and the headphones seemed to be almost totally new. The packaging was undamaged, but both showed signs of being previously opened. The juicer had extra tape at the opening, and the headphones were loose in their package and closed with a small piece of tape.
I unpacked the juicer and everything seemed as if it hadn’t even been touched. All the parts were still wrapped in plastic and taped the way they would be straight from the manufacturer. Even the plug had the plastic cover still intact.
The headphones, however, were a slightly different story. When I pulled them out, I noticed what looked like a small amount of someone else’s earwax (EWW!) still on one of the earbuds. Mind you, it totally creeped me out, but it’s not a surprise. Open box items have often been tried or used once, and then placed back in the box and returned. People aren’t generally courteous enough to clean them off (even if they have gross, waxy ears) before shipping them back. While a little rubbing alcohol should take care of the issue, if you’re a bit of a germaphobe, this aspect might totally wig you out.
Did the Products Work as Intended?
The headphones paired easily with my phone and worked immediately. They’ll likely need some charge, but they worked perfectly well, and they’ll be coming with me on a trip next week.
The juicer did exactly what it was supposed to, as well, and made some pretty great apple, carrot and ginger juice.
Overall, both worked as expected, and I saved a little money in the process. Admittedly, I’m still slightly grossed out by the earphone thing, but since they came with different in-ear connections, I simply threw out the ones that were on them, cleaned them thoroughly with some rubbing alcohol and officially claimed them as my own.
Should You Shop at BLINQ?
If you’re looking to save on a relatively big purchase, and get an item that is just as good as it would be new, BLINQ is a good option. They offer a wide variety of well-known (and not so well-known) brands that range from moderately high-end (Michael Kors, Adriano Goldschmied) to low-end, and you can save a few bucks on things that would usually cost quite a bit of scratch. BLINQ sells items on Amazon, as well.
The only caveats I’d note are that those open box items come with all the open-box-item-issues that you might expect (e.g., gross headphones, maybe some damage that was unseen at the retailer level). I’d recommend closely inspecting any electronic items you choose to purchase — especially computers, laptops and tablets. I’d also note that the site’s inventory can be limited at times if you are looking for something specific.
Even though I didn’t have to use the return policy, BLINQ does offer a 30-day money back guarantee. The things I bought also came with warranties from the manufacturers.
Overall, BLINQ seems like a good way to combine an online shopping habit with some deal hunting. Plus, they are likely doing some good for the environment.