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Are free returns ruining online shopping?

Written by Fashion

Annually, returns cost retailers around £60bn a year, as reported by the Financial Times, and are starting to wreak havoc for companies and consumers alike.

The accessibility and convenience of ecommerce shopping finds 87% of us now choosing high tech over high street, for quicker, faster and easier spending.

Online shopping has increasingly caused store closures around the world but has only recently affected online brands too. Recently ASOS began trailing the coat tails of its competitors despite previously setting an example, until finally revising their returns policy in May to account for the changing landscape of e-commerce shopping.

The average person is three times more likely to return an item bought online as opposed to an in-store purchase for various reasons, with some even gutsy enough to return garments after wearing.

ASOS policy is expected to set an example for its competitors as the war for fastest delivery, at the cheapest cost, with the lowest prices, leaves the industry chaotic.

Despite this, sales are booming, with the price of returns, postage, and bulk buying meaning clothing costs must soar to accommodate this.  Look carefully at just how good of a bargain your next purchase is.

Online shopping orders pass through an average of seven hands in the process

Nowadays, with express delivery on the rise, trains, planes and vans are abound, filled with pretty plastic wrapped pieces get to you next day, which pass through an average of seven hands in the process.

The environmental impact of this sees a significantly worse carbon footprint than that of high street shopping, a previously believed better alternative.  And those bulk buying habits mean stores must mass-produce items that eventually end up returned and unwanted in the ocean, with 35% of synthetic fibres from said clothing polluting our waters.

“Companies try sweeten the deal with free in-store pick-ups”
Companies continually find alternatives to sweeten the deal, with free in-store pick-ups to avoid delivery costs, forcing you to walk past all those lovely clothes you didn’t order, or yearly fees for the luxury of to-your-door ease.

While it’s easy to blame the lack of size continuity, or how different the item looks in person as opposed to online, there needs to be accountability as both a consumer and as a retailer.

For shoppers, alternative options could include: ordering in smaller quantities, less frequently; choosing longer-lasting better-quality shopping options; venturing into a thrift shop; or even investing in a rentable service like Hire Street that lets you change out your wardrobe for every night out.

Now and again, sure buy online, but try to remember sometimes the believed ease of online shopping has more of an effect on you, and the environment, than it’s worth.

Last modified: 12th August 2019

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