Business 169(Wed, Thur) – Zara’s Move Suggests Free Returns May Become Rare

  • 投稿カテゴリー:Business

Zara Fashion Store

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1. Zara in the UK has started charging a fee of £1.95 ($2.39) to return merchandise bought online. The fast-fashion retailer reportedly instituted the charge for environmental reasons. Zara deducts the refund charge from the refund. Customers buying items online can still return them for free in stores. Mailed returns in the U.S. are still free for 30-days post purchase.

2. Consumers’ expectations around free returns may be somewhat lowered these days due their environmental sympathies. A recent study from Cycleon found almost two-thirds (64 percent) of U.S. consumers willing to pay extra when returning a parcel to subsidize greener carrier options.

3. In an online discussion last week, some of the experts on the RetailWire BrainTrust said return fees are likely to become more common among retailers, although the rationalizations may differ.

Have you ever returned anything, what was it, why?

4. “I doubt that everyone will follow Zara’s path — but more retailers will,” wrote Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData. “Positioning the decision as an environmental one is smart, but in reality it is primarily a commercial decision wrapped in greenwash.”

5. “Charging for online returns now is more about reducing last-mile costs as gas prices soar (vs. ‘environmental reasons’),” wrote Lisa Goller, content marketing strategist. “And more retailers will follow.” BrainTrust member Jeff Sward, founding partner at Merchandising Metrics, saw free returns as being a once valuable concept that has run its course.

6. “Absolutely charge for returns,” wrote Mr. Sward. “Free returns sounded great when the mission was to get customers comfortable shopping online. OK, they’re comfortable — really, really comfortable shopping online. Now the focus needs to go back to profitability and sustainability. Yes, a couple of customers may leave. But a couple of other customers may visit the stores more frequently, which would be a very positive outcome.”

Do you think retail jobs will exist in the future, what items wouldn’t you be comfortable buying online?

7. A survey of U.S. online buyers from eMarketer taken last November found only nine percent returning merchandise in store when asked about their most recent return. The most popular return route was mail, cited by 37 percent; followed by alternative drop-off location (e.g., pharmacy, locker), 20 percent; and returned to a different retailer (e.g., Amazon), 15 percent.

8. Online returns are rising and are seen as a margin killer for online selling. A recent Pitney Bowes survey of U.S. online retailers found returns cost retailers an average of 21 percent of their order value. The National Retail Federation (NRF) found that 20.8 percent of goods bought online were returned in 2021, up from 18.1 percent in 2020.

9. Zara, however, risks disappointing customers who gain confidence in making an online purchase when they see free shipping and returns. Power Reviews’ 2021 returns study found consumers indicating free shipping (96 percent) and free returns (76 percent) as important considerations when shopping online. Some on RetailWire’s BrainTrust in fact believe such fees are a surefire way to lower brand loyalty

If you had to have a store what would you sell and would you accept refunds?

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