Wardrobing Is Return Fraud By Another Name And It Costs You Money
Back in my day (don’t you cringe when you hear that?) when I worked in retail loss prevention, if someone attempted to return an item after they had worn it we called it return fraud. Today there is a fancy word for it “wardrobing”, the same offense but a nicer term. If you own a clothing store or manage one and have little experience with retail crime, I want to explain how wardrobing works, how it affects your business and how you can prevent it by using Alpha Shark Tags.
How does return fraud work? A customer purchases a piece of clothing and takes it home. Maybe they wear it to a party or to go clubbing. Who doesn’t want to impress friends with their new digs? Usually, the item is only worn once (you can’t be seen in the same garment twice that would be tacky) and then they return it to you with the receipt. No harm, right? I’ll answer that question in a minute. In order to prevent future wardrobing incidents, you need to know about the Alpha Shark Tags I mentioned. These are tags that are attached to clothing and must be removed by the customer when they get home. They are one time use only so they cannot be reattached. This is the key to the Alpha Shark Tag; if a customer attempts to return a garment that no longer has the wardrobing tag attached, the return is automatically declined! You have no more need to take back used clothing and you can also avoid those lengthy arguments with customers who argue with you.
Here is a hypothetical conversation involving a suspected wardrobing return:
Customer: I want to return this, here is my receipt
You: It looks like it was worn
Customer: It didn’t fit
You: But it has make-up on the collar and it smells like perfume
Customer: It was like that when I bought it! Here is my receipt and the tags are on it.
You: I can’t take this back.
Customer: (raising her voice and making a scene) Your policy says I can return it within 30 days if I have my receipt. Don’t make me call corporate on you! I’ll make sure I tell all my friends not to shop here and I’ll call the police!
You: I’m very sorry, here is your refund
Now the same conversation at your return counter if you use wardrobing tags on merchandise. Here is a hypothetical return without a tag:
Customer: I want to return this dress, here is my receipt.
You: I’m sorry, the Alpha Shark Tag has been removed I can’t take this back. The return policy is clearly stated.
Customer: You mean you won’t take this back, it didn’t fit?! (Incredulity in voice)
As a former big box store executive I have had the unpleasant experience of dealing with customers who returned merchandise that was clearly worn or used. They would yell, cry, rant and rave and threaten me with calls to the District Manager or worse yet, the dreaded CORPORATE call! I have seen managers cave in to these patrons out of fear of confrontation or fear for their job. By using wardrobing tags, you can put an end to these conversations.
I also mentioned that there is harm caused by wardrobing. If you are taking back merchandise that has been worn, you may be marking it down to resell it, causing profit margin loss for you. You may be taking back items that are too stained or smelly to sell and you have to mark them out of stock altogether and take the full loss on the item. When you take losses due to return fraud, you mark up your merchandise prices to help cover the costs and that harms your good clientele. Not to mention, mark up your merchandise too much and you may find you lose customers and your business.
Return Fraud does not have to be “a cost of doing business”. Use Alpha Shark Tags on the clothes you sell and keep your business profitable by accepting only legitimate returns. Your honest customers will appreciate you for working to keep prices down. You will enjoy the boost in profits.
Get more information on wardrobing, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 today.