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Worn fashion returns highest from 25-34 yr olds

By Chris Dawson January 14, 2019 - 12:02 pm

Clothing retailers are struggling with significant costs from fraudulent worn fashion returns according to new research, with a disproportionate amount coming from consumers aged between 25-34 years old. Tackling this problem by leveraging returns data could save Britain’s clothing retail sector millions lost due to processing costs and spoiled stock.

Returns platform ReBOUND surveyed 2,000 UK online shoppers and 200 clothing retailers selling items online, finding that one in ten (13%) consumers across all age ranges admitted to ‘wardrobing’ – purchasing an item with the intention of wearing it and then expecting a full refund for their worn fashion returns. 25-34 year olds made up the largest proportion of this group, with one in five (21%) admitting to wearing clothing before sending them back compared to just 6% of shoppers aged over 45 years old.

The Cost To Retailers

Returns cost UK fashion retailers at least £6.6bn according to ReBOUND data. With 13% of consumers admitting to wardrobing, Britain’s clothing retail sector is losing millions every year in additional courier charges, processing return costs and through stock returned in conditions that make resale difficult. Furthermore, those retailers who do resell stock in poor condition risk damaging their brand reputation with shoppers that purchase stock in poor condition

Three in five (62%) retailers told ReBOUND that the cost of wardrobing is significant to their business – almost a quarter (23%) say the cost is very significant.

While some retailers have started following Amazon’s example in banning customers found to be repeatedly returning items, ReBOUND is urging retailers to view the returns process as an opportunity to leverage data and retain customers who spend more than they return in the long term.

Neglected Returns Strategy

Two in five (43%) retailers admit their returns strategy requires improvement, with more than one in ten (11%) businesses admitting their returns strategy is poor and in urgent need of improvement. Yet just 20% see investing in improving the returns experience as one of their top priorities, with three in five (60%) focusing instead on the browsing experience, while a similar number (58%) are investing in the delivery experience.

“It’s tempting for retailers to adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach to returns, but banning shoppers for repeatedly returning items overlooks that individual customer’s lifetime value. An effective returns strategy requires a nuanced, data-driven approach, as this will highlight that even the majority of customers who ‘wardrobe’ still keep more than they return. By banning repeat returners, retailers risk alienating shoppers who spend far more than they claim in refunds.”
– Vicky Brock, Director of Data Innovation at ReBOUND

  • Mark
    3 months ago

    Well hopefully the big boys will move away from eBay showing eBay that their new 30 day enforced returns is crazy, pointless and totally damaging for retailers on their platform.

    You cannot expect to return used items to the high street after 30 days so why do eBay feel its right to do it online.
    You open the box you look at it and decide it looks right.
    You put it on and look in the mirror and think “yep i am happy”.
    Then the final acid test is you ask your partner “Does my bum look big in this”

    all that takes just 2-3 days at the most.

    So why then does it take another 27 days to decide you don’t want it plus there will be no signs of wearing, damage or drink stains.

    After all retailers whether online or on the high street are just that, retailers, they are not a hire company or a lending library. No sale is now a sale until its been sold over a month absolutely crazy.

    So hopefully the full weight of big outlets will be brought to bear on eBay and they will revert to the LEGAL UK requirement and not EBAY LAW.

    After all they are a US company and if you buy a TV in the US for $2000 you only get a 90 day warranty.
    Not even the EU and UK 1 year minimum.

  • Barry
    3 months ago

    The big retailers only have there selves to blame. They have all favoured closing down their high street retail outlets (remember them, those places where you can TRY ON the garments etc then decide to buy) and build their on line model. Did they really thing it would cut costs?
    The “returns” culture will only grow and grow to the huge cost to the retailer.

    • Toby
      3 months ago

      I have to partially disagree Barry. It is consumers moving away frommthe highstreet that is forcing these shops to close. To be honest why would you go to the expense of travelling and then parking and then having to walk everywhere to get something when you could do it all from your sofa with a nice cup of tea! The consumer wants everything as hassle free as possible, ask alot of online clothes shoppers and they will tell you they buy multiply sizes etc as it is hard to know which one will fit, and usually free to return so no lose situation!
      The real issue to all online retailers has been the big companies offering more and more for free to get the trade. Years ago I said that a point will come when there is no margin left to cut in a bid to undercut your competitors, yet the customer will be used to getting whatever they say they want for the price they want to pay… or not pay at all! This is all coming true now. The problem is while the big companies have been able to swallow the extra costs for a long time, the smaller retailers haven’t. Now we are going to see a push back by retailers on the freebies to support margins and the buyer simply won’t understand! Being a online retailer myself, and previously having been management in multi-million pound highstreet multiples, i can safely say that the next 5 years will see a massive shockwave going through retailing with many more big companies unable to live up to the culture they have promoted and failing. Ironically it will be the smaller, more nimble sellers that will be best able to adapt as independants etc become more ‘ethically’ acceptable to consumers who will view the big boys as neglecting them ( rather unfairly on one point… but karma on the other). Sometimes offering the customer everything they want, rather than the value that works best, is a quick way to the bottom and beyond. Just as in life…. everything goes in cycles!

  • Toby
    3 months ago

    Just as an extra note…. Talking to many other online sellers who trade on ebay, they nearly all report an increase in items being returned as faulty or not as described since the automated returns system was forced on everyone. It makes sense… the buyer knows that ebay will virtually never side with the seller so it’s an easy free return. Personally although my returns have only increased by a small margin, the amount that are returned for false reasons to get a free return have jumped alot. Last one was ‘faulty with parts missing’… yet still in original packaging with shrink wrap intact. Ebay simply said… ‘as we have no way of knowing in what condition it was received by the buyer in and no way of confirming in what condition it was received by back in… that they thought the best way forward was for me to full refund and accept the return cost! Despite me sending pictures of it! No wonder people buy clothes use them and return them… you simply can’t lose!

    • Barry
      3 months ago

      Hi Toby. Thanks for your view…and frankly I 100% agree with you. It must me a nightmare situation as you rightly explain, that retailers have been scrambling to get the sale and leaving no margin to handle all of the giveaway promises with returns etc. I suppose its the old adage “Its not what you take, Its what you make”
      I also agree that there is going to be a massive tsunami shockwave when the bean counters of these companies count the cost of returns.

    • Mark
      3 months ago

      Hi Toby if the item is of a decent value and worth chasing do what we did.
      eBay replied with the same spiel they did to you but what they did not allow for was because we allowed the return to be taken over by eBay who provide the return label to the buyer. they are accountable for the return totally under the following rules.

      Any carrier a person uses expects the user to ensure the item is packed correctly and safely for the journey. That is the contract you enter into when you ship an item.
      So any item returned not in the condition it went out in is not your responsibility as eBay said it was fine.

      We had an item valued at £189 sale returned smashed to pieces yet the buyer just said leaked which would in any normal persons eyes mean a drip etc. Smashed to bits would have meant not even usable and you would not even bother connecting it.
      So we we informed eBay that it was for them to contact the carrier as the contract was between them not even the buyer. When they refused 3 weeks of arguing our case then followed in the end we said what if a naughty person return shipped an illegal package to where he needed it to go as a return to get an item from A to B with eBay buying the shipping to avoid the possibility of arrest in transit we will need to call trading standards to see if you would be responsible for that.

      They refunded in 12 minutes.

      The same applies if someone said a part missing you get it back you could then smash it to pieces and eBay will have to submit the claim to the carriers.
      They are playing with fire if enough people use the rules and laws properly

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