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While H&M has become the latest retailer to begin charging for ecommerce returns, the £1.99 fee will not be passed onto consumers who are part of the fashion giant’s loyalty programme.

Zara set the precedent in May 2022 when it announced a charge for the reverse logistics would be taken from ecommerce shopper’s refunds. Soon Boohoo, New Look, Mountain Warehouse and Moss Bro also began deducting the returns cost.

There has been some concern raised over what this would do to basket abandonment and customer retention. It is therefore not surprising that H&M has utilised its loyalty programme to maintain free returns for some.

“Some retailers have different returns policies or processes for high value customers or those that tend to buy items at full price. This is an important consideration, as taking care of customers in these categories in the long term makes more business sense, so maintaining their loyalty is key,” explained Jamie Cairns, chief strategy officer at Fluent Commerce.

“This is often true even if they have high return rates, and retailers should avoid penalising or even blacklisting loyal and active customers if at all possible.”

In the luxury space, retailers Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter have been experimenting with new “you try, we wait” premium services, whereby customers can send anything that doesn’t fit back with the same courier that delivered the items.

Boohoo’s premium customers will also be able to return items for free. Could we see retailers deploying loyalty schemes to deal with the returns problem?

Read more about how the top retailers are handling returns in the DeliveryX Returns 2023 report. Download it in full to discover: