A normal part of doing business or an expense crippling the bottom line, the issue of returns is climbing up the retail agenda as brands deliberate how to tackle repeat offenders.


Online fashion retailers offering free returns to customers may have opened a Pandora’s box, exposing themselves to serial returners, social media poseurs, wardrobers, between-size fashionistas and indecisive hoarders, who are eating away at their margins.

However, efforts to stem the tide of returns risks souring the relationship retailers have with their customers, changing a dynamic the stores have worked hard to develop.

Womenswear brand Boden views its returns policy as a key differentiator, arguing that the more customer-friendly it can be, the better it is for its brand and business. It has a three-month returns window, although 94% of its items are returned within a month.

“The flexibility we have with our returns policy is one of the reasons customers love us,” explains chief customer officer, Gav Thompson.

“When we do customer research it comes up time and time again that the open-mindedness, the understanding, the ease of our returns is one of the reasons people spend £100s or £1,000s with us each year.”

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