Free Returns Are Killing Everything – Here’s Why

According to RetailDive every year 2 million tons of retail returns are loaded into landfills.

I have written about this before, in fact not so long ago. But I’m doing it again. And I will keep on doing it until someone changes the online model and I don’t have anything to complain about. This is a major problem. It’s killing the environment, it’s killing your shopping enjoyment and it’s killing the brands you love.

With convenience and cheap prices comes a whole plethora of serious problems for retailers, company budgets and the environment.

If you buy something online with free returns and you send it back, who do you think picks up the tab for that? It isn’t actually free. Someone has to pay for it. And just because it isn’t you, it doesn’t mean it isn’t someone else. A company still has to collect and return your package to the fashion brand. And they need paying. By the retailer. They’ve managed to cut back on that cost by underpaying their couriers using self-employment loop holes. But that is set to change.

And once that garment gets back in store what do you think happens to it? Do you think they send it out to someone else? Or put it back on a shop rail? Because they don’t. Often they throw it away. You might think you were clever popping that dress on for one night and then sending it back. But they know. How? They sniff your clothes. Yes, that’s right, they smell you on the garment. And then they throw it away. Because would you buy pre-worn?

If anything this says a lot about the way retailers sell to customers. Instead of looking at the reverse supply chain and deciding how to make it more efficient, why not look at why products are being returned in the first place?

Stores convince you to buy things, you get it and you don’t like it or you like it but it’s only good for one outing. Why? Because it never looks the same on as in the brochure, because the fabric is naff, because the cut isn’t right or the sizing is wrong or because it was badly made in the first place. Very probably you couldn’t say no because sending it back wasn’t going to cost YOU anything.

Retailers should be taking responsibility for how they market to online consumers. Sending them a dozen items every month in the hope they will want something isn’t efficient and it isn’t going to work. Customers aren’t so lazy as to not be able to walk to the post office if there’s a refund involved. And if they went into a shop they probably wouldn’t have bought that item in the first place when they’d seen it. Which is probably one of the reasons fast fashion chains like online.

For all things Falcieri Designs check out my website at


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