It’s not only legitimate returners that commerce is having to deal with, they are also having to absorb the costs of customers who game the system – the serial returners, and the so-called ‘wardrobers’, who wear something once, then send it back.
Retail Week detailed a number of different tacks brands are adopting to tackle the problem.
ASOS, it reported, has made radical changes to its business model, including getting tough with anyone it believes is exploiting the system. The new approach includes offering vouchers instead of cash to anyone who returns beyond 28 days; and it’s ready to deactivate the account of anyone it suspects is exploiting the returns offer.
In Russia, Adidas is offering a new service in which the delivery driver waits while the customer tries on their purchases – if they’re not right or no longer wanted, the products are simply handed back to the driver.
Obviously, this one is dependent on the customer being available to slip into their purchases. Net-a-Porter, however, does offer a similar ‘you try, we wait’ service for its most valuable clients. And Express, the online clothing retailer, has launched an invite-only service for EIPs (extremely important people), which allows members to try up to 30 items at home for a week after careful selection via a personal shopper who turns up at their home laden with clothing, jewellery and watches.
Canada Post Office has come up with a different take on “try while we wait”, offering customers the chance to try products in post office changing rooms at the time they pick up their parcels; anything unwanted can be sent straight back.
Less innovative is the policy of simply charging for posted returns, as Next now does in the UK. Forever 21 and Matalan have also begun charging for postal returns.
Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer has addressed the problem, perhaps inadvertently, by taking a stake in a clothes-fitting tech company. It has invested in Texel, Retail Week reported elsewhere, which has developed a service allowing customers to generate digital avatars using 3D technology. The avatar is then used to source clothing with the best fit, and to see how it will look on the customer.
The technology can be used in store or by using a smartphone app – the belief is that the technology will boost sales – and, because it’ll be hard to argue that ‘it doesn’t fit’, cut returns in the process.
Sourced from Retail Week; additional content by WARC staff