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How to Avoid Return Abuse: Lessons From an Australian Survey

In recent times, returns have become not only part of the shopping process, but also an area for unfair practices. According to recent research in Australia, this unfair behaviour is a serious challenge for retailers worldwide.

How to Avoid Return Abuse: Lessons From an Australian Survey
Source: Depositphotos

Returns fraud

Returns fraud takes many forms. From ordering multiple items to try with the intention of returning most of them (bracketing), to attempting to return an item that is not eligible for a refund. Some consumers wear or use items with the intention of returning them later. Other groups claim a functional item is faulty in order to get a refund or discount. Even further out of line are those who purchase items with a stolen credit card and then transfer the attempted refund to another card.

The British, for example, returned up to 42% of orders after Christmas. Some brands are coming up with their own solutions to deal with this, penalising users who abuse free returns. In Switzerland, online shops are responsible for providing the right information about products and sizes to reduce the number of returns.

Vast majority prefer flexible terms

Around a third of online shoppers abuse return policies, according to an Australian survey. A further 31% of shoppers blame a lack of finances for abusing return policies. Up to 96% of consumers say they prefer to shop at retailers with flexible return policies.

It is vital for e-shops to have clear and transparent return policies. More than a third of shoppers read these policies before making a purchase, so it is important that they are clear and easily accessible on the website.

On the other hand, 62% of respondents said that they do not accept abusive returns. Some consumers are conscientious shoppers, and up to 25% of them would be reluctant to abuse returns if they knew it had a negative impact on the environment.

It is therefore advisable to treat each customer individually. E-shops can use data on customers’ past behaviour to provide a personalised experience. Segmenting customers and tailoring the shopping experience based on their past behaviour can be an effective way to prevent return fraud.

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