Planning to Return Your New Year’s Eve Outift January 1st? Retailers Are Watching You

If you’re one of those people who likes to buy an item of clothing, wear it once, then return it to the store, beware: retailers are on to you, and they have now developed a way to track “wardrobers.”

Retail Equation is new software that allows stores to pinpoint “serial returners,” or those who practice what retailers call “wardrobing.” Retailers certainly needed this software, as stores lost an estimated $14.8 billion last year due to shoppers who brought back gently used items. {WSJ via The Cut}

We’ve all made the routine impulse buy that can’t be justified a few days later, but people who “wardrobe” on a regular, continual basis has to be beyond annoying for retailers. Anecdotally, we’ve always heard about serial returners who’ve received “thank you for your business, but don’t bring it here” letters, so the idea behind the software probably isn’t completely new.

The prospect of lessening this practice is not the only good news here, though: some stores are adopting more lenient return policies for shoppers who don’t push the return policy rules since they can now track “wardrobers.” Among them are Macy’s, Toys “R” Us, OfficeMax and Best Buy, which recently eliminated its unpopular 15 percent restocking fee. {WSJ}

It’s still not clear exactly how the software will work and what will be done to offenders (we vote for barring them from returning worn or used merchandise indefinitely) but hopefully there will be a way to distinguish repeat returners who are “wardrobing” from those who just happen to get a lot of misfit holiday gifts.

The situation is definitely a win-win for retailers, since studies have shown that consumers buy more when return policies are more relaxed and less risk exists in purchasing an item they are unsure about. {WSJ via The Cut}

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