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Retailers looking to clamp down on ‘serial returners’

BY Marianne Wilson

Shoppers who regularly return items may be in for a rude awakening.

In a survey published today, Brightpearl, the world’s largest purpose-built retail ERP platform, revealed that Almost two-thirds (61%) of US retailers are planning to ban shoppers who deliberately and regularly buy multiple items with the intent to return some (so-called “serial returners”), according to a survey by Brightpearl, a cloud-based ERP for retailers and wholesalers. The report, conducted in association with OnePoll, revealed that 42% of U.S. retailers have seen an uplift in serial returners over the last 12 months.

Following a move pioneered by retail giant Amazon – which in May started closing accounts of customers who “request too many refunds” – many brands are now considering banning customers that return too many items, the report said. One-quarter of retailers admit that introducing lifetime bans for problem shoppers is a necessary move to protect their slim margins.

In addition, nearly half of U.S. retailers would impose bans to save time and administration resources – an indication that chronic returns are eroding retailers’ margins.

Of the brands Brightpearl spoke with, almost two-thirds (64%) of all clothing and fashion retailers are set to implement similar measures to Amazon, while 67% of consumer electronic firms plan to do the same. Perhaps more surprisingly, baby and toddler retailers are the most ruthless market segment, with 80% expected to ban serial returners in the near future.

Returns cost an estimated $351 billion in lost sales for U.S. retailers each year (according to the National Retail Federation). Brightpearl surveyed 4,000 online shoppers and 200 retail decision makers to examine the measures that retailers are taking to combat serial returners – and how consumers are reacting to them.

In other key findings from the report:

• The worst offenders are shoppers aged 18-34, where 22% of respondents confess to having intentionally bought more items than they intended to keep.

• Most shoppers support bans for serial returners, with 58% agreeing it’s a fair policy. However, there are clear differences in attitudes depending on age group, with 18-24s the least likely to agree with the policy.

• Just 7% of respondents disagreed about banning serial returners, while 11% said they would never shop with an online retailer who imposed bans for returning too many items.

• Many retailers do not have the right technologies in place to identify repeat offenders. Fifty-nine percent of the surveyed retailers said that they cannot identify – or do not know whether they can identify – who their serial returning customers are.

“In today’s consumer-led retail environment, intentional returning could spell disaster for retail business owners if they do not have visibility over regularly returning customers. Without this, retailers will struggle with the definition and consistent application of their returns strategies – and could face a resulting backlash from shoppers,” said Derek O’Carroll, CEO, Brightpearl.

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Amazon’s holiday hiring spree is in full gear

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Applications for seasonal employment positions are flooding into Amazon.

The online giant has received more than 70,000 applications for numerous customer fulfillment positions available this holiday season. These applications were received within 48 hours of Amazon announcing its plan to increase minimum wage to $15 for all full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies), and seasonal employees across the United States. The new pay wage, which was announced on Oct. 2, goes into effect on Nov. 1.

According to Amazon, more applications were received the week following the announcement than in the entire month of August. In addition, traffic to AmazonDelivers.Jobs was up 180%.

The company is currently filling more than 100,000 seasonal jobs across its network of customer fulfillment and delivery facilities this year complete with new employment perks.

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J.C. Penney kicks off holiday hiring spree

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

J.C. Penney is bolstering its workforce for the holidays.

The department store retailer plans to hire an extra 39,000 seasonal workers nationwide. Available positions include jobs in customer service and support positions, such as cashiers, replenishment specialists, and Sephora inside J.C. Penney beauty consultants, among others, according to WNCT.com.

To fill the positions, the retailer is hosting hiring events at stores nationwide. Management will hold in-person interviews while making employment offers to candidates on the spot, according to ABC13.

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