Zara, a popular European fashion brand, has recently implemented a new policy that charges U.S. customers for returning online purchases to third-party drop-off points. This change came into effect for orders placed from June 1 onwards, with a fee of $3.95 being deducted from the refund amount. However, customers can still return their online purchases to any Zara store free of charge.
The return policy allows customers to return most items in new or like-new condition within 30 days of the shipment date of their online purchase. This policy also applies to in-store purchases. To be eligible for a return, items must have all tickets attached and be in perfect condition.
This new policy was first introduced in the U.K., where customers were informed in May that they would be charged £1.50 for online returns. As of June 22, 2022, U.S. online shoppers started getting charged $3.95 to return their online orders. The policy is also in place in other European markets, including Belgium and the Netherlands.
The decision to charge for select product returns is seen as an interesting move by industry experts, who are curious to see if other retailers will follow suit. Traditionally, retailers have aimed to make the return process as easy as possible for customers, but this approach may be changing as businesses face increased fuel, materials, and other supply chain costs.
Returns are a significant issue for retailers, with shoppers expected to return over $761 billion in merchandise last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Approximately $218 billion of these returns came from online purchases, with clothing being one of the categories with the highest return rates. Many consumers have developed a habit of buying multiple variations of the same product, trying them on, and then returning the unwanted items without penalty.
Industry experts have praised Zara‘s decision as a smart way to reduce costs without alienating its loyal customer base. If Zara, one of the largest international fashion companies, can successfully implement a charge for returns, it is possible that other retailers may follow in their footsteps.