The Fashion eCommerce industry has been subjected to a proliferation of fraudulent shopping. Aspirations continue to skyrocket while the discretionary income remains somewhat stable. This anomaly offsets the balance in consumer behavior and etiquette.
Shoppers have begun to look for loopholes in return policies. This would allow them to fit into a lifestyle of their choice for social media and gatherings. All while not spending a single coin on them.
Unbeknownst to most there is a rise of influencers who live off of free goodies and benefits from collaborations with brands. This has directly triggered a boom in Gen Z’s ambitions to live a spend-free lifestyle. Hence, they rely on fraudulent shopping behavior to get noticed for their looks and style quotient to become a possible influencer.
This toxic cycle keeps repeating and growing constantly. These aspirations encourage new variants of policy abuse and hits the eCommerce industries where it hurts - their bottom line.
2) What is Wardrobing & Product or Tag Switches?
The habit of purchasing an item with the intention of wearing it with tags intact and returning it for a refund is known as Wardrobing. Most motives involve the desire to wear something expensive and unique to an occasion.
People who wardrobe are either not able to afford it or justify the expense. Another driving factor is the need to have something new for their #OOTD in order to generate more content and gain social media traction.
The contemporary way of attaching tags using tiny gold safety pins or tying a twine enables easy tampering. This makes it all the more easier for shoppers who engage in this practice.
2.2) Product Switches
eCommerce has made counterfeited goods readily available on marketplaces. It is quite hard to differentiate between a first copy and an original and takes a keen and knowledgeable eye.
Product switches involve shoppers purchasing counterfeits from a retailer. They then buy the authentic product from another store. Shoppers return the counterfeit to the store where they purchased the original. They demand a refund citing poor quality.
With the high returns that Fashion eCommerce faces, vulnerable retailers often fall prey to this switch. They process refunds, and may even put the counterfeit merchandise on sale in their stores without thinking twice.
2.3) Tag Switches
Tag switching is a process that could tie in with product switching or work with similar-looking but cheaper garments. Solid basics are easy to purchase at a lower cost. So it simply comes down to taking the time to switch the labels and tags and process returns for a refund. This is particularly easy with products such as camisoles, tights, or even a pack of briefs.
3) How do Wardrobing & Product or Tag Switches affect retailers?
Legitimate returns are a pain point for fashion eCommerce, and fraudulent returns are even more so. Wardrobing and product or tag switching have several negative impacts.
3.1) Wardrobing - Damaged Returns
Products that have been stained or have odors will need to be processed, and they may go on the discount rack.
3.2) Wardrobing - Seasonal Returns
Seasonal merchandise returned after the holidays may make it to the clearance pile.
3.3) Wardrobing - Fast-fashion Returns
For stores that offer between 24-52 collections a year, products change every other week, and late returns make the garment unviable.
3.4) Product or Tag Switching - Brand Image
In some cases counterfeits or products of inferior quality inadvertently make it back on the shelf and are resold. This influences the shoppers’ perception of the brand’s quality. The store’s reputation ends up taking a hit.
4) How to prevent Wardrobing & Product or Tag Switches?
With the rise of online fashion ecommerce brands and marketplaces, retailers need to establish gatekeeping measures. Strategies are needed to prevent fraudulent practices such as wardrobing and product or tag switches.
4.1) Strong Policy
A clear return and refund policy is a must. Ensure your rules work for your store. Ensure your full-time and temporary staff and employees are trained in the nitty-gritty of your returns processes.
4.2) Keen Inspection
You may process truck loads of returns in your fashion eCommerce business. Do not allow impending deadlines to result in oversight and carelessness. In your haste to re-shelf, do not miss out on apparent evidence. These include damaged tags, tags attached differently, deodorant odor, sweat stains, make-up smudges, or dirt.
4.3) Anti-Wardrobing Tag
Prevention is better than cure. Anti-wardrobing tags allow a customer to try on a garment but are not easy to conceal or stow away while wearing.
Stores that employ anti-wardrobing tags dictate specific rules in their policy.
The tag must not be tampered with in order for the returned merchandise to be eligible for return and refund. 360 ID tag and Alpha Shark tag are popular brands that market anti-wardrobing tags. Bloomingdale engages in the use of a clip called a B-tag.
Retail giants like ASOS have begun tracking social media accounts of their return offenders. With proof, they catch them red-handed and place them on a blocklist. This is a great strategy to block the accounts of any shopper you believe is guilty of police abuse and fraudulent shopping practices.
This entire process can be automated or manual. But either way, it makes sense to invest time and effort into this operation only if your wardrobing cases are sky-high and warrant immediate action. Otherwise, it would only lead to expensive troubleshooting for a manageable problem.
You may think that taking strict action such as anti-wardrobing tags might be a put-off to shoppers. However they will never deter a sincere and loyal customer from shopping with you. In fact, you will state the obvious loud and clear to any policy abuser in the vicinity. That your store will not be defrauded!
Work your way to finding the right strategy that works for your store. This will help you nip this problem in the bud. Toxic shoppers will continue to find new and innovative ways to take advantage of return policies. But hindsight 20/20 is not a great place to be when it comes to fraudulent shopping practices.
1) What is tag tucking?
Concealing tags and wearing newly purchased clothing just once in order to be eligible for a return and refund is called tag tucking.
2) Can you return clothes with tags cut?
While you may have receipts and purchase bills, any clothes you have bought need to have tags attached to be eligible for a return.