Serial returners damage retail profits

23 May 2016 - Janet Bird

serial online returners

More than half of UK retailers (57 percent) are being negatively affected by the phenomenon of 'serial returners', new research suggests.

A study by Barclaycard found that as many as 30 percent of UK shoppers deliberately order more goods than they want and take advantage of increasingly easy, and often free, store return policies. One in five (18 percent) admit to ordering multiple versions of the same items so they can make their minds up at home.

Managing these returns is a growing problem for retailers, with online businesses particularly affected. Indeed, 31 percent of online retailers told Barclaycard the problem of serial returners was negatively impacting on their profit margins.

But with 58 percent of shoppers saying a business' return policy impacts their decision to buy online and 47 percent stating they would not order an item if they had to pay for it to be sent back, retailers feel pressured into offering free and easy returns.

Thirty-three percent of retailers attempt to offset the cost of offering free returns by charging for delivery and 20 percent admitted increasing the price of goods to compensate for the impact of managing returns.

The research did suggest some ways in which businesses may be able to minimise the problem. Thirty-eight percent of shoppers said they would send back fewer purchases if retailers standardised clothing and shoe sizes, while 18 percent said a shorter wait for changing rooms in stores would reduce the number of returns they make.

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