Returns cost fashion retailers £61.52 million per year
As more consumers shop for clothes online, the cost of returning unwanted clothing to UK fashion retailers rose to £90.76 million last year according to the results of new research.
The research for Webloyalty UK conducted by retail analysts Conlumino, found that the majority of the cost - £61.52 million - was borne by retailers. This represented some 47.4 million purchases returned over the cost of the year. The cost of a further 13.6 million returns, some £29.24 million, was taken on by UK consumers.
Conlumino’s Neil Saunders said: "An increase in the number of fashion orders placed remotely has led to a corresponding increase in the number of returns, with the largest share of this cost falling on retailer’s shoulders.
"Returns are a particular problem in fashion where consumers are now used to ordering multiple items in a range of sizes, colours or cuts in the knowledge that they can easily send back items that they don’t want. In many ways, the home rather than the store has become the fitting room, often at retailer’s expense."While many retailers do build in some cost of returns, there is the danger that as remote channels continue to grow, the cost of servicing the consumer will also increase. This could result in some retailers having to revisit how the returns process fits into their multi-channel strategy.
Guy Chiswick, managing director of Webloyalty, advises that fashion retailers should make the most of the multi-channel environment to minimise returns. He said: "The emerging trend of the bedroom replacing the traditional fitting room should be seen as an opportunity for retailers rather than a barrier to growing digital sales channels."
Chiswick continued: "Traditional stores have long recognised that giving styling advice in the fitting room can contribute to both customer loyalty and sales growth. The multi-channel retail environment is well positioned to bring this styling advice into the consumer’s home. Mobile and tablet channels are the perfect format for providing customers with styling advice and enabling them to share ‘looks’ via social media. In this way, retailers can seek to minimise returns while at the same time increasing engagement and loyalty with consumers."
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