55% of UK clothing retailers considering banning ‘serial returners’

More than half of fashion retailers are planning to introduce measures to curb the rise of ‘serial returners’ in order to protect their margins, according to new research.


The phenomenon of online shoppers ordering more items than they intend to keep is on the rise, with over one third of UK retailers seeing an uplift in serial returners over the last 12 months, a survey conducted by Brightpearl has found.

Earlier this year, online giant Amazon decided to close the accounts of customers who returned “too many items”, and more UK retailers could follow as growing return volumes become a £60bn burden for businesses.

A quarter of retail companies believe that introducing lifetime bans for problem shoppers will be “necessary” to protect their slim margins moving forward, particularly in the challenging retail environment.

When it comes to chronic returners, 18-34 year olds are the worst offenders, with over 33% admitting to returning items frequently. And while 56% of shoppers are broadly in favour of bans for serial returners, the younger demographic is much more likely to be unconvinced. In fact, 11% of those surveyed said they would never shop with an online retailer if it restricted its returns policy.

“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 of Brightpearl, a purpose-built ERP platform.

“Consumers are looking for fairness and choice when returning merchandise,” O’Carroll continued. “Having the right software in place that offers a single view of returns data is essential to quickly identifying your cohort of problem shoppers, so you can make more informed decisions on how to combat them – while at the same time maintaining your relationships with loyal customers.”

Brightpearl surveyed 4,000 online shoppers and 200 retail decision makers to produce the study.

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