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A new shirt is born: a fashion designer designs it; a manufacturer agrees to make it. Materials are sourced from all around the globe: cotton from the banks of the Nile, plastic buttons from the oilfields of Saudi.
It is shipped from the factory, stored and marketed; then sold, packaged, shipped, delivered and worn.
But then the customer decides that they don't really like it. Cornflower blue just isn't their thing. Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, they return it within the statutory cooling off period.
So that's it: game over. A great deal of effort for nothing?
The increase in e-commerce means that handling returns is an increasingly important fact of life for retailers.
Recently, we spoke with Andrew Starkey, head of e-Logistics, IMRG. He discusses developments in this field and how retailers can minimise their losses on returns:
Retailers have a range of ways of dealing with returns.
Ideally they take them back and put them on sale again as quickly as possible and at as high a price as possible, but the process can be complex. Goods have to be quality inspected and may need some work—like laundering—before they are resold.
When they have gone through this process:
Retailers often have an agreement with suppliers and manufacturers for the goods to be returned to them. They may, for example, have a sale or return agreement for a percentage of the total of goods sold.
They do play an active role, as mentioned above, through their agreements with retailers. Some retailers in fact don't even try to sell the goods again themselves but return them straight to the suppliers. Suppliers may then sell the goods again through another channel.
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