Trying times for retailers managing returns

Woman shopping for clothes online. | Newsreel
A majority of online shoppers buy multiple items knowing they will return most. | Photo: Goroden Koff (iStock)

More than three-quarters of online shoppers in Australia purchase clothes in multiple sizes, with the rise in “at-home fitting rooms”, shaping the returns policy of retailers.

A recent report found 79 percent of online shoppers admitted to “bracketing”, or ordering multiple items to try, knowing most would be returned.

The report noted that while the action did not violate return policies, it could still impact a retailers’ bottom line.

“When asked why they engaged in this type of behaviour, 62 percent said they needed to determine the size/fit of the item, pointing to non-malicious intentions and perhaps room for improvement for retailers’ product size guides,” the report stated.

Produced by Loop, a returns management platform for ecommerce brands, the 2024 Australia Consumer Fraud Report surveyed 1000 Australian online shoppers on their purchasing activity.

It found four out of 10 shoppers surveyed admitted to at least “one abusive, fraudulent, or other unfavourable return-related behaviour in the past 12 months”.

While the “at-home fitting room” return-related behaviour was dominant, the report also found almost one third (32 percent) of shoppers planned to wear a product once, for a specific event, and then return it, while almost as many (31 percent) had spender’s remorse and needed to return the item because they needed the money they had spent.

The report urged retailers to have a clear returns’ policies, with their research showing the majority of shoppers (92 percent) reviewed a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase online.

It also stated that one in five shoppers said a lack of clear guidelines about what constituted return policy abuse would make them more likely to engage in these behaviours.