One of the unique aspects of living and working in a tourist town with an advertised 60 miles of white, sandy beaches is that retailers have a lot of visitors. These visitors come for the multiple reasons, golfing, dining, fishing, sun bathing on the beach and yes, SHOPPING! An estimated 14 million tourists visit our area each year. I have over 20 years of retail experience in this city, the majority of that experience being in retail loss prevention. Like any other market, we have theft issues we have to combat, but we also have a significant problem with the practice of wardrobing, a form of return fraud.
“At the beach”, as we refer to our locale, we have a big problem with the wardrobing of swimwear. It is disgusting, but I would see customers return swimwear with sand in it and occasionally the suit would still be damp. The customer would swear that the item had a defect or did not fit. My thought was, “Sure it didn’t fit after you wore it into the water and laid out on the beach for the day.” Unfortunately, because the stores had fairly liberal return policies we would have to accept the returns, as long as the item had the tags and the customer had a receipt. If our stores had used Alpha Shark Tags we could have enforced a much stricter return policy. These tags are pinned on a piece of merchandise in a place that would make it impossible to hide it. The tags have to be removed by the customer after they leave the store and once removed, the store can enforce a “no return” policy for those items.
Wardrobing costs retailers unbelievable amounts of money each year. According to an October 21, 2013 “Main St.” article on this subject, “Wardrobing and other forms of return fraud including return of stolen merchandise and counterfeit receipts caused the retail industry to lose an estimated 8.9 billion dollars last year”. This particular type of fraud has been around for a long time, well before the advent of smart phones. This article, as well as another I read about the subject, cited the popular trend of “selfies” as part of the excuse used for wearing and returning clothing. People have already been “seen” in an outfit in a picture they have posted and don’t want to be pictured in it again. This isn’t a harmless practice and in order to absorb the cost, retailers have no other choice than to pass the expense on to customers through price mark-ups. Ultimately, it is the honest consumer who bears the cost of fraud.
In addition to being a tourist town, we also have a medium sized college with around 10,000 students in attendance. The nightclubs thrive, catering to locals, students and tourists. Many of those who engage in return fraud like to attend the clubs in new outfits, for the same reason they do it for “selfies”, they don’t want to be seen in an outfit they have already worn out on the town. Alpha Shark Tags used in conjunction with an anti-theft device can protect your merchandise from theft AND fraud. When an item is purchased, the retailer will deactivate or remove the anti-theft device, but the merchandise can still be returned with tags and receipt. If an Alpha Shark Tag is used with an anti-theft device, the merchandise can still be returned but ONLY if the tag is still on the merchandise and intact.
Whether you sell swimsuits that carry a hefty price tag or your business specializes in nightclub attire, Alpha Shark Tags can help you fight return fraud. Don’t allow yourself to be the victim of wardrobing, consider swimming in profits by tagging your clothes.
For more information about Alpha Shark Tags contact us or call 1.770.426.0547