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Consumers welcome controversial new ASOS returns policy

In April ASOS announced that it was to crack down on serial returners with a change to its returns policy. The main changes are to close accounts of those consumers who are suspected of wear and return activity or ordering and returning an excessive volume of items.

UK wide research by Whistl has found that the majority of consumers (76 per cent) welcome the changes, but they are less popular with younger (63 per cent) and less affluent shoppers (66 per cent).

Overall only 8 per cent of consumers disagree with the changes but this increases to 16 per cent when related to ASOS shoppers. Interestingly, Argos shoppers are the most negative with 19 per cent against the changes.

Those in favour of the policy changes think others are being dishonest and negatively impacting on everyone else by making items second-hand and pushing prices up. The respondents against the policy think it is against the principle of being able to buy and return and worry genuine customers might be unfairly penalised.

Interestingly, the research established that people who are classified as serial returners were predominantly in favour of the changes:

% in favour
79%Bought an item with the intention to return it
77%Kept an unwanted item as it was too much trouble to return
71%Used a ‘try before you buy’ service
67%Bought several colours and sizes with intention to return
66%Bought more items than required to avoid a delivery charge

Melanie Darvall, marketing and communications director, Whistl, said:

“Although the changes brought in by ASOS created a lot of debate at the time, our research indicates that the changes are widely welcomed, even by those who are considered to be serial returners.

“It’s a good lesson for retailers when looking at developing their return policies for online purchases. If explained well and seen as reasonable, the general public will welcome them, no matter how controversial they may first appear.”

Getting a returns policy right depends on many factors and more guidance is available here.

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