Deshoppers, a growing number of customers who purchase clothing, wear the item, and then return it, are costing retailers about $16 billion a year, according to a recent article in Business Insider.
This is a common issue and it’s only becoming more prevalent in stores. E-commerce is also going to worsen this issue because it will be even easier for people to wear a garment out and then mail it back to the retailer for a refund.
Retailers have to figure out how to combat it. One idea is to create some type of technology that scans a returned garment for body oils, detergent or dry cleaning fluids to indicate it’s been worn. This would have to be coupled with an agreement in the sales receipt that states if you wear a garment you’re required to pay for it.
Another possible solution is the use of RFID technology. A retailer could see where the garment has been and if it’s been out of a person’s house, they have a reasonable assumption it’s been worn and not just tried on.
Retailers are also combating the problem by working more closely with staff to raise awareness of the issue, understand the characteristics of deshoppers and create guidelines around purchases that help protect the store. Training return clerks is also a good idea but it’s a fine line for the retailer — they don’t want a scene but they don’t want to lose money, either.
Source: Business Insider, February 2012