Customer Return Behaviour – The Serial Returner

A recent survey conducted by Clear Returns has investigated customer return behaviour and the growing trend of consumers continually returning garments they have already worn.

67% of survey respondents have returned items that they ordered online, with almost 40% returning several items.

Much more concerning is the statistic that nearly a quarter of respondents have returned items that they had already worn, basically committing fraud. 52% of respondents also said their friends had committed similar offences. The most common reason given was that customers would buy an item for an occasion, wear it once and then get a refund:

“My friend has WAG aspirations and regularly returns dresses to coast etc she has worn to an occasion. She has commented that more shops are putting labels on the outside now so she can’t hide them or pin them in. I think returning online gives her more anonymity but she has returned in store (rotates the stores she goes to).”

“Wore the clothes, damaged them, returned them claiming they were damaged on arrival”

“No point of keeping it if it was only going to be worn once.”

This behaviour is known as “de-shopping” and it is becoming increasingly common as is returns fraud. A recent publication by Tamira King and John Balmer on this issue provides some further insight.

Worryingly retailers may be encouraging customers to buy more than necessary by providing offers such as free postage or discounts. The survey results found that 22% of customers returned items they had bought on special offers such as these. This suggests that these perks from retailers are potentially detrimental as this may encourage more impulse buys that may cost them far more than they gain in sales.

Posted by Ellie

Many Unhappy Returns

UK consumers feel increasingly frustrated and disappointed about returning garments.

Our research uncovered that fit was the main reason that consumers had to return items with a staggering 80% of returns being made for this reason.

Almost half of the customers in our sample admitted ordering the same item in multiple sizes in an attempt to overcome fit issues when buying online. However this may still not be enough as retailers are increasingly accused of not providing accurate sizing.

The Daily Mail recently put high street stores to the test and found that many retailers utilise “vanity sizing” to make consumers think they are a smaller size and therefore encourage them to buy more. The full article can be accessedhere

By using this method of sizing retailers may be creating more problems for themselves when it comes to e-commerce sales as this will surely only increase the number of returns they receive and consequently increase their costs.

Customers were also left frustrated by poor product description and or photographs on the retailer’s website contributed to 55% of returns:

There could be some improvements in photographs, measurements or articles, it can be difficult to tell an items exact colour, feel or fit.

Retailers should be more careful to avoid returns of this nature as this problem can be solved relatively simply if they are aware of a particular issue. This is where customer recommendations and reviews are key as this tool can inform the e-commerce team on any issues with a particular product. Also features such as the “catwalk view” used by e-tailer ASOS where customers can see the garment in motion and would allow customers to gain a better understanding of fit and style.

Survey results also demonstrated that customers are unaware of what happens to products when they are returned. Over a quarter of consumers never think about what happens to their returned items, and almost 75% assume they go back on the shop floor. However the returns process is often much more complex and costly than this and if consumers realised the implications of returning items they might buy more carefully in future!

 

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Posted by Ellie

Ready to hit Women 2.0 in NYC

New York here we come…

We’ll be joining some of the most inspirational women and men in technology when we head to NYC to take part in the final of the Women 2.0 NYC Pitch competition.

As the only non-US tech company in the final, we’re not under-estimating the size of the challenge in shining out amongst some of the smartest startups on the planet – but we’ll be giving it our best shot!

Big Data Venture Challenge Nomination

It may be a buzz word of the moment, but “big data” is attracting the attention of retailers and investors alike.  The power of very large data sets and sophisticated algorithms is what gives Clear Returns its predictive capabilities, and this is the principle behind many of the uses that retailers are starting to turn to data mining and modelling for. Its a growing and exciting field.

And so we’re excited to have been invited to Rome as a nominee for the very first Big Data Venture challenge.  At a global gathering of data geeks, we’ll get to unleash all those mad professor tenancies that we usually keep under wraps.