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Trend for returning products leaves retailers in trouble

21 October 2016 - 12:36 by Simon Crisp

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The rise of safe shopping online has made it easier for people to order items of all kinds, empowering consumers to pick and choose from a broader range of options than ever before. But people are also more comfortable with the idea of returning the products that they have purchased, which is becoming a real problem for retailers, according to BBC News.

A study conducted by Barclaycard, revealed that most outlets choose to offer refunds to customers who return items even if a quarter of the products that are sent back are not able to be resold. One common habit is for people to order clothing, wear it once and then return it for a refund, which more often than not will be granted because retailers want to remain competitive and avoid losing customers to rivals.

Twenty per cent of retailers are so familiar with the trend for returns that they have developed specific stocking methods which allow them to cope with the high volumes of returned items. In some cases this involves shipping products to third parties so that they can be sold again, usually without making the original seller any money in the process.

Forty per cent of retailers are actively seeking to dissuade people from returning the items they buy online, usually by implementing a fee-based returns policy. But since 33 per cent of people will not shop with outlets that charge for returns, companies risk alienating consumers.

Furthermore, refunds are preferred over in-store credit, since shoppers want the flexibility of being able to spend their money wherever they like, rather than being tied to a single retailer.

Clothing retailers are suffering the most from this trend, although there are no signs that it is slowing down in spite of the measures being taken.