INDUSTRY | 29 MaY, 2019
ASOS Toughens Up its Returns Policy & Cracks Down on Serial Returners
Savvy online retailers are well aware that a smooth returns process is a major factor in customer retention. With many implementing free returns to reduce the time and effort for customers to process their returns, some others have also adopted a rather lax criteria for returning apparel.

The unfortunate thing is that, these measures have spawned off a wave of serial returners - a term coined to describe customers who fraudulently purchase apparel and merchandise. This type of retail fraud is commonly known as "wardrobing", where customers order clothing to wear just once and return the item for a refund thereafter. What usually happens is that customers do not remove the tags on the clothing, and such a practice often occurs with expensive items that shoppers are unable to afford.

$18.4 billion
Estimated loss from annual merchandise return fraud for US retail industry
Source: 2018 Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry published by Appriss Retail

While legitimate reasons such as size misfit and customers' change in minds may contribute to the bulk of returns, fraudulent returns have in recent years come into the spotlight with a recent report published by Appriss Retail that reflected an estimated $18.4 billion annual loss from merchandise return fraud in the US retail industry alone.

Estimated percentage of return fraud out of all returns
Source: 2018 Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry published by Appriss Retail
Retailers thus find themselves at the shorter end of the bargain, as they bear the consequences of these returns in terms of costs and carbon footprint incurred throughout the whole delivery, re-packaging and quality control inspection process. It comes at no surprise that online fashion giant ASOS recently announced it would implement more stringent measures to its return policy to combat the burgeoning issue of fraudulent returns.

While customers can still obtain a full refund for items returned within 28 days, they can only receive a gift voucher for the amount spent for items returned afterwards, within a window of 45 days. The crack down on serial returners will also involve disabling accounts and preventing them from making future purchases from the ASOS website.

With return policies toughening up, customers could be facing more difficulties in returning their apparel in the future. Retailers, on the other hand, face the risk of losing its loyal customers. The question to ask is, will the potential loss be worth tackling serial returners?

Stay tuned on this space for fashion's latest updates.

Yunqi Ye is the Content Wizard at Pixibo. Creative and inquisitive, she is the one behind Pixibo's social media and blog posts, bringing to you our latest happenings.