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… but the rise of social media in fashion fuels online returns

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Social media in fashion is driving not only a much faster fashion cycle, but is also pushing more returns as a growing number of consumers ‘snap and send back’.

According to research by Barclaycard, almost one in ten UK shoppers (9%) says that they have bought clothes online to wear once with the aim of posting a photo to social media and subsequently returning their purchases. 35-44-year-olds are the biggest culprits, with nearly one in five (17%) revealing they have bought clothes to wear once for the hashtag moment before returning them.

And with London Fashion Week, which starts on 15 February, looking to be more socially fuelled by influencers than ever, the problem is only set to worsen.

However, this is part of a wider problem. According to commercial real estate firm CBRE, 30% of online purchases were sent back last year with ecommerce returns expected to rise 15% year on year. The sheer volume of returns is overwhelming and accordingly, retailers and distribution centres around Europe are facing an urgent logistical challenge.

But it is one that returned goods auction company B-Stock says can be solved by leveraging the latest technology to improve the reverse supply chain processes. This includes the remarketing of merchandise that can’t go back on virtual shelves and is slated for liquidation.

“Technology in the forward supply chain has improved in leaps and bounds, and the industry is just now paying attention to how technology can streamline reverse logistics and liquidation,” says Ben Whitaker, EMEA Director at B-Stock. “One way to survive the strain, is for online retailers to incorporate technology-based programmes to efficiently move and sell merchandise that was previously slated for liquidation.”  

More and more returned inventory – regardless of condition – is now being sent directly for liquidation. This is true for some of the world’s largest retailers and is due primarily to  the cost associated with processing items back on shelf and newer technology-based liquidation methods available that produce much higher recovery rates for the merchandise. For example, an online auction solution like the one offered by B-Stock, allows retailers to make more money on their liquidation inventory by selling to thousands of business buyers (versus negotiating offline or worse, landfilling). 

B-Stock’s B2B liquidation marketplace platform sets up an online auction dynamic where retailers and manufacturers can sell directly to a diverse base of approved business buyers in a competitive online auction environment, this drives greater demand, higher pricing and a faster sales cycle, while maintaining the brand control the retailer needs.

Whitaker adds: “There are lengthy decisions to be made when returned stock arrives at the warehouse. Online auction platforms can provide retailers with more opportunities for their stock to be sold at the maximum value which saves time and recovers money.”

Image: Barclaycard

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