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56% UK consumers unlikely to return products if charged: Survey

Around 93 per cent of UK consumers listed incorrect sizing or fit, while 81 per cent mentioned product quality not meeting expectations as the top reasons for shopping returns. For 56 per cent of shoppers, a returns charge is the measure most likely to prevent returns, as per a survey on online fashion purchasing and returns behaviour.

The report, jointly conducted by the Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF), Roland Berger, and Dynata, found that the onus is on retailers to help consumers make the right choice. Fashion businesses need to be more thoughtful about the products they are selling so that they are producing collections customers will want to keep. They should also be enabling shoppers to buy correctly by leveraging data and digital solutions, the British Fashion Council said.

UK consumers say that incorrect sizing and product quality not meeting expectations are the main reasons for shopping returns. Around 56 per cent of shoppers indicated that a returns charge is the most likely measure to prevent returns. Retailers must help consumers make the right choice by producing collections that customers will want to keep.

Investment in sizing calculators will become an industry norm and digital avatars an integral part of the future for fashion retailers. Roland Berger has calculated that large retailers with approximately 70 per cent of sales coming from their website, could reduce cost of returns handling by 20-40 per cent with the introduction of sizing calculators and avatars. 

Retailers need to look closely at reverse logistics to reduce costs and meet CO2 emission targets. This involves investing into technologies and processes such as digital product passports and automated warehousing, so that businesses can make returns operations more efficient, cost-effective, and less carbon intensive.

“This project recognises the importance of investing in innovation to secure robust and profitable businesses, while safeguarding the planet and society. The responsibility now lies with retailers and fashion businesses to reach the target state by implementing the necessary change across their entire businesses from production to reverse logistics,” said Caroline Rush, BFC chief executive.

“Tackling the returns issue is being prompted by lower consumption, impending legislation and higher operating costs—the latter probably being the strongest motivator for companies to move from a linear to a circular business model. While the future for fashion is circular, achieving it is not an easy task. The prize, though, is that?circular fashion businesses are estimated to grow 18 per cent per annum from where they were at the beginning of this decade to 2030, whereas the rest of the market is looking at just 3 per cent annual growth,” said Siobhan Gehin, Roland Berger senior partner.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (NB)