Hands up – are you a serial returner?
Do you buy clothes knowing that you not only have no intention of keeping them but that you’ve every intention of wearing them before bringing them back to the shop for a refund?
Well oh shameless one it looks like your number might be up. Retailers, including ASOS, have vowed to get tough on serial returners and those who claim to have not received online orders.
According to new research by Brightpearl into over 200 UK retailers, more than a third of stores have seen an increase in serial returns over the last year. As a result the retailers have vowed to get tough with 45% of retailers, including ASOS and Harrods, saying they were planning to blacklist repeat offenders.
Online clothing giant ASOS said it had resorted to checking people’s social media, where its security teams had spotted a repeated and suspicious patterns with returns, in a bit to catch those who wear clothes before sending back or those who falsely claim not to have received items.
An article published by The Telegraph claimed that in such cases ASOS checks the customer’s Instagram and Facebook feeds to see if they have photographed themselves wearing the item. ASOS denied the procedure was designed to check up on serial returners, saying it is something customers are “within their rights” to do. So those of us who panic order five outfits ahead a night out or who can be any one of three sizes when it comes to jeans (so annoying!) are in the clear.
In an article in the Financial Times, Clear Returns estimates that returns cost UK retailers £60billion a year, £20bn of which is generated by items bought over the internet.
In a move to combat this problem Amazon announced last May it was to start enforcing lifetime bans on serial returners stating: “We never take these decisions lightly, but with over 300 million customers around the world, we take action when appropriate to protect the experience for all our customers.”
Speaking to Brightpearl on the issue facing retailers Garment Quarter Managing Director, John Reid said: “In my view, there are a few contributing factors behind the rise of the serial returner. Firstly, it is to be expected that customers need to see goods in real life and try them for size where applicable; but generous return policies, the introduction of Try Before You Buy (TBYB) as well as split payment options has helped to shape serial return habits.
“Social media has also had a direct impact on returns, particularly for the luxury sector, where Garment Quarter operates. Some consumers, mostly a millennial audience, intentionally buy luxury items, for example high-end clothes, simply to capture them for their Instagram feed, before returning the products.
“While the above example is an issue that may need addressing, I have less of an issue with shoppers buying multiples of items and returning some, as long as they do keep one or two items, and are genuinely ‘trying before they buy’, as this is a replication of the in-store experience.”