Goodbye free returns: the innovation that will change online shopping (forever)

Bad news for those who have given in to the temptation of online shopping without setting too many limits, relying on free returns. Anyone who fills their cart, buys the products, and then sends them back may soon encounter a painful surprise: paying for the return. This is the trend of shopping giants.

So far, many brands have adopted a free return policy. On a global scale, this means millions of packages are moving back and forth from company warehouses to consumers’ homes. The latter often take advantage of the zero return cost and order two sizes or two colors of the same product, or then calmly choose at home and return the least liked product. In fact, returns do not always occur because a garment is defective or an object does not work. Now companies are saying “enough”. From Yoox to Zara, from Amazon to Abercrombie & Fitch, companies are intent on changing pace.

Why? On the one hand, there is the reason for “green”. Companies say they are at the forefront of protecting the environment: The ease of returns encourages “compulsive” buying, and the further goods travel, the more polluting vehicles travel around. But there’s a less noble reason: expenses. From a logistical perspective, returns are expensive. Packages are prepared and sent. In case of returns, goods must travel in the reverse direction. So you pay twice.

To get an idea of ​​the scope of this phenomenon, we turn to data from the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association (including department stores, independent retailers, restaurants, grocery stores): Customers in America alone, purchased in 2022 It sent back approximately 17% of the total product, or a total of $816 billion. Retailers spend $27 to cover returns on a $100 item purchased online, according to sales services company Inmar Intelligence. The Wall Street Journal explains how companies lose nearly 50% of their margins in returns.

The numbers have become too high for companies. That’s why we run to hide. According to the New York Post, 8 in 10 retailers in the UK have decided to charge for returned items. For about a year now, Zara has started charging customers £1.95 if they want to return an item purchased online through delivery points managed by third parties (such as post offices). However, there is no change in the products returned in the physical stores of the Spanish chain. Paid returns also apply to Japanese Uniqlo and British Asos.

Even in America the road is a toll road. Amazon charges $1 to return items to a UPS store. Zara, Macy’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew and H&M charged up to $7 for items returned by mail, according to the New York Post.

Zara Italy

Things are changing in Italy too. Zara keeps returns free only if you bring the item into the store. The home collection fee is 4.95 Euros and will be “deducted from the refund”.

At Yoox, returns are the customer’s responsibility. H&M Italia offers free returns to all members, otherwise we charge €2.99.

HM Italy

Therefore, consumers are given the impression that a new revolution is coming that will make them think twice when they click “add to cart.”

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Source: Today IT