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Returns of online apparel retailers impact environment
18
Mar '13
Would you believe it if you are told that e-commerce, particularly, the online apparel retail business could more so affect the environment? 
 
Well it can to a certain extent. An online apparel retailer ends up making around 132 deliveries to generate actual sales of just 82 pieces. This leads to unnecessary transportation costs and in turn impacts the environment. 
 
“This could be a wake-up call to look at ways of reducing environmental impact for sectors other than food and groceries,”, says Heikki Haldre, founder and CEO of Estonia-based virtual fitting room company – Fits.me.
 
He adds, “The clothing sector has an industry return rate averaging around 25 percent, which has a huge impact in terms of unnecessary transportation. An average 27% of those returned items are exchanged for another size, so, retailers face making 132 deliveries and collections to successfully sell just 82 garments.” 
 
“On top of that, returned items usually mean new or additional packaging. On this basis, aiming to cut return rates can make a serious and visible contribution to a clothing retailer’s environmental initiatives at a time when it is high on the consumer agenda”, he winds up by saying.
 
Arun Sirdeshmukh – CEO of India-based online fashion retailer – Fashionara reveals that they have robust systems in place to reduce returns and also exchanges. 
 
He explains, “One of the areas, where returns tend to be more are in COD transactions, where the money is collected at delivery. There is also a phenomenon called ‘Post-Purchase-Desonance’, wherein a customer either is confused about colour, design or develops plain disinterest after the order has been placed.
 
“At Fashionara, we have a system in place, whereby, once an order is placed, we reconfirm by email or text messaging, whether the customer would still like to go ahead with the purchase. In case, the customer does not reply, he/she is receives a call from us to reconfirm the order. This ensures that our returns percentages are very low compared to industry standards. 
 
“A majority of the returns are actually exchanges, which mainly happen due to wrong sizes. We have an interactive size guide, where a customer is able to virtually measure the size, and inspect cut & fit parameters. This reduces size exchanges and increases customer satisfaction.”
 
On the question of repackaging a return, “We try to repack the garment with the same outer packing, where a customer may have returned the parcel without opening it. In cases where the customer has opened the parcel, the packing is reused if it is still in good condition.”
 
“In our own way, we have tried to reduce returns and in turn the environmental impact, by having good systems in place,” Sirdeshmukh concludes by saying. 
 

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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