How fashion can minimise the billion-dollar return problem – Vogue Business


Another strategy for curtailing returns over the holidays is to adjust the window for sending items back. Six out of 10 retailers are changing their returns policies this peak season, according to goTRG, a return-management provider. Amazon, for example, has shortened its holiday return window this year. In 2021, buyers could return items bought between 1 October and 31 December until 31 January 2022. Now, it’s 11 days shorter: shoppers can only return goods purchased between 11 October and 25 December, returning them by 31 January 2023. 

Using technology to curb returns

Another option is to implement better selling tools and platforms, such as AR try-on and fit technology. A growing legion of startups are making it easier for retailers to offer this to their customers, such as FindMine, a platform that creates personalised fit recommendations on brands’ e-commerce sites. 

Mega-retailers are taking these offerings seriously. In a bid to reduce returns, Amazon launched a virtual try-on service with Snap in early November; also launching a supply-chain management service, AWS Supply Chain, just this month to help businesses track and manage cargo flows.

Resale is another tactic: why return the item to its source when consumers can keep it in use and significantly extend its lifecycle? This isn’t only sensical, but profitable, too. A 2018 study in the European Journal of Operational Research found that retailer-run resale initiatives not only increase the price and sales of new products but also decrease the rate of consumer returns. 

This is already taking hold at Inditex, the world’s biggest fast fashion group. In October, Zara announced its entrance into the secondhand space with the launch of a new platform in the UK, in which buyers will be able to resell, repair or donate Zara pieces online or through a physical store. This comes powered by Recurate, a tech-enabled resale service that aids brands and retailers, including Mara Hoffman, Steve Madden and Outerknown, to establish their own integrated resale platforms directly on their e-commerce sites. 

Dealing with returns

Returns are inevitable, so how brands and retailers deal with them matters. Retailers can partner with platforms like Narvar, Happy Returns and Returnly (the latter of which Lisa Says Gah currently uses) to collect customers’ returns for them. Other reverse-logistics startups, like Fillogic, take this a step further, processing returns in-market and allocating them to another customer order the same or next da

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