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The ‘Return’ of Retail Fraud


Returns management platform, ZigZag conducts research to show that retail fraud, including wardrobing and staging is on the rise:

According to a recent report from Ravelin, refund abuse has increased for half (50%) of retailers in the past 12 months. In light of venues and events re-opening their doors, ZigZag Global conducted research into three ongoing return trends – wardrobing, staging and bracketing. 

Wardrobing…describes the process of purchasing an item, using it once and then returning it for a full refund. ZigZag has found that a quarter of shoppers (26%) have bought an item with the intention of wearing it once before returning it – behaviour which is costing UK retailers £1.5bn a year.

Staging…on the other hand is whereby shoppers purchase an item, typically an expensive or designer item, to take photos for their social media pages before returning. A relatively new trend, yet ZigZag found that almost one in five shoppers have done this (16%) and 26-35 year olds are the biggest culprits, with 29% admitting to this behaviour. A further 10% say they have not done any of these things but they know people personally who have.

Discussing the findings, Al Gerrie, CEO and founder of ZigZag Global, commented: “Most retailers would readily admit that returns fraud is a costly and inconvenient issue that they’d like to nip in the bud. Staging and wardrobing in particular can become more costly and are bound to be on the rise again as we gain more freedom. There are a number of ways that technology can help retailers avoid returns fraud such as:

“There will always be a small minority that abuse retailers’ return policies. The majority of customers do buy with good intentions. Buying behaviours have changed. Consumers expect to try from home whereas before they went in-store. We want to help retailers spot who the fraudulent buyers are by monitoring closely which customers are wearing stuff before returning it.”

Since the reopening of nightclubs, ZigZag have seen more womenswear being sold in non-loungewear categories such as evening wear and party wear. Naturally, as the bedroom becomes the new fitting room, they have been buying multiple sizes and colours. This long standing practice is referred to as…bracketing.

ZigZag’s research showed that a third (33%) of consumers have one this with the intention of returning at least one item. This is more prevalent in women, rising to 43%, compared to just 22% of men. Around 50% of returns are due to size issues. 

On bracketing, Al Gerrie, CEO and Founder of ZigZag Global commented: “Bracketing is a fairly common practice, especially with more people shopping online and the variation in sizes. Retailers expect this behaviour and are happy to deal with it, as most consumers have the intent of purchasing. In order to encourage sales, retailers want to offer an accessible returns policy as an important part of developing customer loyalty. Speed of refund and good tracking are key to a great customer experience.”

For more information on ecommerce return stock management visit https://www.zigzag.global/

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