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Standards Spotlight

Views of Real-World Impact

ANSI shines a spotlight on Standards in action as they support safety, efficiency and well-being in interesting aspects of everyday life.


Standards Support Unprecedented Online Shopping and Returns Season


With the holiday season now behind us, it is now time to return all the unwanted gifts from the holiday season before their return windows close. From clothing bought in a size too big or small to items we might’ve just changed our minds on, returning items is just a normal part of the post-holiday season cleanup and prep for the new year.

This holiday season saw an unprecedented amount of online sales. Whether a result of the pandemic or simply just a matter of convenience, online sales jumped 32 percent from last year, according to the Associated Press. According to the AP, people on average return about 25 percent of their online purchases compared to 8 percent of their in-store purchases. With the surge in online retail, a surge in online returns is to be expected.

Standards Support E-Commerce

The convenience of putting your unwanted item back in the box and dropping it off at a shipping center certainly beats going into a store and standing in line just to remember you forgot the receipt at home. Standards make both the delivery to your home and the delivery back to the retailer possible. ASTM D951-17, Standard Test Method For Water Resistance Of Shipping Containers By Spray Method, was developed by ASTM International, an ANSI member and audited designator. The standard details a test method to determine the water resistance of shipping containers. With the unpredictability of winter weather or the possibility of an order arriving on a rainy day, waterproof test methods ensure that the item in the container arrives at your house or back to the retailer undamaged.

With any delivery, the most important part of the shipment is arguably the shipping label. This label, often outfitted with a simple barcode, contains important information such as the carrier, and allows both the recipient and the sender to track the item’s location. ISO 15394:2017, Packaging - Bar Code And Two-Dimensional Symbols For Shipping, Transport And Receiving Labels, specifies the minimum requirements for the design of labels containing linear bar code and two-dimensional symbols on transport units to convey data between trading partners and also provides for traceability of transported units using a unique transport unit identifier. ISO 15394 was developed by ISO technical committee (TC) 122. MHI, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, administers the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to TC 122.

If reading this made you remember that stack of gifts you still have to return, hurry up before the store won’t take it back! Whether you are returning the item to the physical store or putting it in a box and shipping from the comfort of your home, standards help support your return every step of the way.