Returning a newly purchased item is easier than ever thanks to the internet. In fact, traders are under an obligation to guarantee that right, but what happens to customers who change the norm almost everything they buy?
The call "wardrobe buyer" Buy and return things compulsively. It is a customer profile that has increased in recent years and poses a number of problems for some businesses with difficulties.
Harriet Gordon meets that profile.
The 28-year-old is working in London, UK, as a human resources consultant and recognizes that only half of the things she buys online are left with.
I usually spend around US $ 500 each month, but returns articles that cost about US $ 250.
Most of the time he does it because the clothes are not as expected or because the color or fabric has nothing to do with those of the photograph that convinced him to buy the product on the internet.
"You see models carrying things that look fantastic," he explains, but holds that They do not look the same when tested.
The fact that many of the stores that you buy offer the home delivery collection gives you the process.
Try and discard
Despite working in a downtown and commercial area of London, Harriet Gordon says it's much easier to buy online and thus avoid queues and the stress of physical stores.
It's something similar to what happens to Hester Grainger, a 41-year-old woman who bought seven dresses for a wedding on the website Asss, one of the most popular online fashion stores globally.
He knew that he would just end up staying with one, but he wanted to make sure it was the right one.
It was not an occasional case. When you need new Texans, ask for five pairs and then choose one.
In total, he calculates that he spends between US $ 480 and US $ 510 a month in clothes, but returns so much that in the end what he spends is usually not more than $ 90 or $ 100.
"I spend hundreds of dollars on several items in different stores over a month, but I'm probably returning around 80%," he told the BBC.
Hester, founder of Mumala Club, a platform online For mothers, he says his habit of buying It has to do with its low stature.
It measures 1.5 meters in height and it is difficult for him to know if something will stay well for him, so he often requests three sizes of the same item.
Buyers like Harriet and Hester are not unusual.
A recent study by the multinational credit card provider Barclaycard that analyzed about half of the debit and credit transactions in the United Kingdom says that a quarter of retailers have seen the growth in the number of returns in the last two years.
In the case of clothing and footwear stores, consumers return almost half of what they buy, according to the report.
Social networksThey are helping to boost the trend: around 10% of buyers confess to take one selfie for Instagram or Facebook posing with a new article, and then returning the purchase.
Geoff Beattie, a professor of psychology at the University of Edge Hill in England, says he is surprised that the number of returns is not even higher.
Your own research shows that our pulsations accelerate when we bought That emotion lasts until we take the item home and we show it, but then it disappears quickly and we regret to have spent the money or the fact that we have not put up that garment. So we'll give it back, he explains.
"What happens next is the least exciting part of the whole process," he tells the BBC.
Increasing online purchases promotes this habit because "There is no fault or shame" or the need to give too many explanations, the specialist maintains.
Also, big discounts, such as the Black Friday or the Cyber Monday, boost the so-called "Purchases by panic", which are usually more linked to subsequent remorse by the buyer.
A problem for stores
Returns not only involve delivery costs, but also packaging and cleaning. Also, they are a waste of time.
If an item is not available it may be because it is being returned. And to avoid that some stores have to ask for more than they expect to sell.
Another problem is the fast cycle of fashion. By the time an item has already been returned, it may be on sale, which means that the store can no longer sell it at its original price.
That makes some merchants prices increase. According to Barclaycard, in the United Kingdom a third of them do so.
The fact that stores try at all costs to ensure sales during rebates has made customers easier for them to return items without paying additional service costs. Sometimes they even offer the option "Try Before Paying".
It is inevitable that many take advantage of the system.
But some shops are fighting against that. The internet giant Amazon, for example, has started to Block clients who return too many things.
"We want everyone to use Amazon, but on some occasions people abuse our service for a long period of time," a company spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal.
Other companies are following their example.
Understand the customers
However, Vicky Brock, director of data and innovation at eBound Returns, a software system to manage returns, says it is wrong to assume that those who often return are bad clients.
Brock maintains that a small proportion of buyers generates most of the returns, but in that group they enter both the best and the worst clients.
"To veto buyers for returning items repeatedly overlooks the value of each customer and reveals that the merchant He does not understand the behavior of his clients well"he tells the BBC.
There are data that show that the more orders buyers make over time, the less returns they make on demand.
Providing better images of clothes on the internet and more precise sizes is one of the ways in which stores can reduce the number of returns, experts say.
Some companies companies such as Uniqlo and Asos already have Suggestions based on previous purchases and customer and weight information.
Another option is to direct personalized marketing. For example, if a client tends to keep his pants but always returns shoes, they will receive announcements only from the first.
Vicky Brock says that stores should act urgently as the trend increases.
Buyers like Hester do not intend to change their behavior. "I'm not sorry for the merchants. They are part of the problem because they offer free or very cheap returns. They should adjust the sizes better"explains.