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ASOS leads the way in ending ‘Wardrobing’ trend that costs retail £60bn a year

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ASOS has introduced its vaunted ‘Serial Returner Blacklist’ policy, opening the doors for all retailers to finally clamp down on the trend for Wardrobing – something that costs online and store retailers dearly.

Research conducted by resource planning platform Brightpearl, which asked more than 200 retailers across the UK about the trouble they face, more than a third of shops have seen an increase in serial returns over the last year.

As a result ASOS – and Harrods – have both publicly now announced blacklists. Many other retailers are expected to follow suit.

Returns are costing retailers £60bn a year and an increasing number are caused by shoppers ‘wardrobing’: wearing or using items once and then sending them back. Now the online fashion retailer ASOS is fighting back against serial wearers with a bold new move to crack down on “unusual” returns; and it’s a change likely to be mirrored across the retail industry.

With 9% of shoppers revealing they have ordered an item just to take a picture for social media or a vlog and then return it, it’s small wonder ASOS intends to stamp down. ASOS’ new returns policy says: ‘If we notice an unusual pattern of returns activity that doesn’t sit right: e.g. we suspect someone is actually wearing their purchases and then returning them or ordering and returning loads – way, waaay more than even the most loyal ASOS customer would order – then we might have to deactivate the account and any associated accounts.’

According to home delivery firm ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT: “Stores have just been waiting to see who will be first to blink. For many retailers, a single return means they have made a loss on an item, meaning returns devour at least 13% of online businesses’ annual profits. Struggling stores have been waiting for someone to take the first step and will likely now follow ASOS’ lead.”

He continues: “Wardrobing is a huge problem for retailers, costing billions of pounds. However, no store wanted to be the one to make the first move. That’s because 83% of shoppers now say they check  returns policies and only shop again with a store that has a returns policy they like. It has needed a retailer of ASOS’ size and enduring popularity to finally take the bull by the horns.”

In fact, ParcelHero’s own research has revealed around 10% of shoppers now admit they return several items a month, up from 8% in 2017. In fact,  an astonishing 60% of all online purchases were returned last Christmas. It’s easy to see why nearly 200 specialist online retailers told us they were closing down in January because they couldn’t absorb the influx of returns costs.

“ASOS may have ’sugared the pill’ by increasing its returns period from 28 to 45 days (for a voucher after 29 days) but this is undoubtedly still a tough new policy. And the terms of its ’wardrobing’ crackdown are likely to be As Seen On the Screens of many more e-commerce sites very soon,” concludes Jinks.

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