UK retailers are seeing £7 billion of purchases returned each year with a quarter of retailers (26%) saying they have seen a rise of returns instore and online over the last two years and the number of items returned up by 22% on average.
The research by Barclaycard, says that for fashion, footwear and accessory retailers the rate is even higher with almost four in ten (37%) reporting a rise in returns since 2016.
The study showed that British shoppers spend an average £313 online on clothes but send back almost half of this (£146 worth) with a third admitting they are buying goods then expect will be unsuitable before even trying them on.
Fit was a major issue for those surveyed with two in five (40%) saying they returned clothing online because items didn’t fit as they expected and 9% of shoppers saying they were buying multiple sizes of the same item and sending back those that didn’t fit. More than a third (36%) of shoppers said retailers should improve online size guidelines and 35% that size should be standard across retailers. A further 16% want to see more technology used online.
Over half of shoppers say that the returns process is more convenient now coupled with the trend for free returns this seems to be fueling the growth of returns. “It’s clear having an effective and convenient returns policy that satisfies customer needs is a crucial factor of success for retailers,” said Konrad Kelling, managing director of customer solutions at Barclaycard.
“While many have adopted new processes to help manage increasing returns volumes, the real focus should be on measures which help to reduce over-ordering in the first place. Implementing technology such as virtual fitting rooms which allow shoppers to visualise how products will look when worn, for example, is one way retailers could reduce the number of returns and refunds they contend with, and in turn, the size of the ‘phantom economy,” he said.
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