Decline in free customer returns

Will the days of free customer returns go the way of the free lunch? It’s certainly looking possible – research by a leading returns management platform has detected a sharp drop in the number of UK retailers offering free fashion customer returns.

In fact, in a study of over 200 leading fashion brands, just 28% were found to offer free returns – a big decrease from 55% earlier this year. The report also found many retailers are ‘hiding’ their returns policies, with just 6% promoting their returns policy at every stage of the purchase journey – product page, basket, and checkout.

Why is this? The sheer volume of returns. Yes, there are other reasons, but many fashion brands are now being swamped by returns. This problem has increased hand-in-hand with the sheer scale of ecommerce growth in fashion.

So how can i.LEVEL help? This year we developed an IT capability called ‘i.LEVEL’s Customer Returns Section’, and we’ve bolted it on to both our wholesale and concessions software.

Our Returns Section includes High Street retail as well as ecommerce and provides a full returns capability. Key features include the ability to identify the customer alongside the reasons for each return.

The latter is especially important in order to discover whether the problem rests with the consumer (in terms of sizes and preferences) rather than a fault with the item itself at the source of production. If faulty, our Customer Returns Section allocates it back to the factory who manufactured it.

But perhaps the best feature is our reporting structure which lets a fashion brand analyse hundreds of returns in one go. This helps identify key patterns in returns and allows a brand to quickly implement solutions, for example, if one single supplier is primarily at fault.

Given the fashion industry experiences the highest rate of returns, with 57% of online shoppers returning casual clothing in the last 12 months, getting your returns policy right is crucial. It’s all about the balance between protecting your brand, but being fair to the customer and motivating him/her to want to purchase again.

If you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01234 761 757, email or DM us using our Twitter handle @ilevelSoftware. We’d be glad to set up a demo for our returns solution, both face-to-face or via Skype.

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