Wardrobing is a common fraud scheme that most retailers are oblivious to. In an effort to retain customer loyalty in today’s economy, many retailers have relaxed their return policies and adopted more of a “no problem” stance when it comes to returns. While customer satisfaction should always be our top priority, how to manage to please your clientele, but also protect your bottom line? Obviously, there is no one answer to solve this dilemma, but there are programs you can put into place in your store to help mitigate the risk of refund theft.
In a company I once worked for, we were in the business of selling high end clothing. Now, if you’re a guy like me, I hate trying on clothes in a store. I know my size(ish) and want to be in and out as quickly as possible. Occasionally, I find a brand doesn’t quite fit like the rest and have to return it to the store for a different size. This is acceptable. Wardrobing is not. If you’re not familiar with that term, it is when an individual purchases clothing, usually higher end product, wears it a few times, or for an important night out, then returns it for the full purchase price. That’s not acceptable, but as a retailer, how are you supposed to know the difference between the honest and dishonest customer?
Let’s take that example from above and look further at it. Let’s say that someone purchases a $500 evening dress, then returns it after a wedding. You now are out that $500 from the sale. What you may not realize is that sales you may have missed while that particular dress/size/color was out of stock. Even if only one additional person wanted that same exact item that equates to a $1,000 loss. Multiply that by 10 or 15 times per month, and the losses can add up very quickly. What’s more disturbing is that they do not appear as shrink, so you never truly realize how much wardrobing can cost your store. What’s the solution?
There are several products on the market, however, the Alpha Shark Tag, has been most effective in my stores. These tags easily attach to the garments and provide a great physical deterrent to shoplifting. Unlike other clothing security tags, the customer must remove the device at home with a pair of scissors. This prevents the item from being worn. This, coupled with a strict return policy for garments without the tags, can and will prevent wardrobing. The key here is to make sure your customer’s are well educated on your policy. You should clearly state to them at the time of purchase that returns are absolutely accepted, however, the Alpha Shark Tag must still be on the product. You will also need to ensure that the placement of the device does not interfere with, or damage the product. Your customer has to be able to try on the item either in store, or at home. These very simple steps can go a very long way in preventing those hidden losses from affecting your store.
For more information, contact us: Clothing Security, or call 1.770.426.0547