Returns at the store

imgresThere was an article in the NY Times this week about the liberal returns policies at stores.  Not surprising to me that physical retail stores have the highest percentage of returns.  What was amazing is the number that Americans return over $284 billion a year.  Nothing like try it and if you don’t like it then return it.

I remember buying 10 pair of snow boot from Zappos.  They were all delivered, I tried them on and then returned 9 of them.  The process was seamless.  I always return the next day because I understand the value of getting that merchandise back into your inventories.  Although as someone who started their career in the business that transaction stuck with me.  If someone is on commission and I buy 10 pair of shoes and hold them for months on end then finally return the nine I don’t want what happens to the sales persons draw months later?

When I ran departments in a brick and mortar store I was always blown away by people’s returns. I started out as a hard ass about not taking stuff back but then realized it wasn’t Macy’s policy and I should just follow policy but it was the things that people returned that truly pissed me off.

There were multiple people who would buy outfits for an event and return them the next week after obviously wearing them.  There would be the women who would buy loads of cosmetics and decide that after going home and trying them that they shouldn’t have spend so much money.  There were the people who would wear something until it was falling apart and then decide to return it.  There were people who would buy a TV before a big event and then return it after the game was over.  There were people who would leave dirty diapers in the fitting rooms and others who would go to the bathroom in the fitting room.  I kid you not.

You see it all in retail.  It is hard to calculate what your revenue will be when you have no idea what will be coming back.  What looks like a good month can be returned the following month.  There is a reason some stores have adopted the policy that if you don’t return it with in 5 days then you get a store credit.  I get it and respect it.

Not sure there is any brilliant resolution I have here but living through those years of returns really made me wonder about how certain consumers operate.