This year, more major retailers are implementing a "just keep it" return policy that could be detrimental to small sellers. Narvar provided data that suggests the practice among large retailers and marketplaces grew in 2021, exacerbated by supply chain issues and consumer behavior.
A majority of shoppers buy items knowing they will return it, according to the company, a practice it calls "bracketing." Narvar's 5th annual State of Returns report revealed that 60% of shoppers are buying multiple items at the same time with the intent to return some of them mainly because they cannot try products in store or are unfamiliar with the brand, the company said.
Using its "Consumer Tell All" research, Narvar found that 60% of the items they were allowed to keep instead of return were priced under $20. But nearly 20% were products priced over $50. Amazon, Walmart, Target, Wayfair, Chewy, Wish, Kohl's, and Shein, were the most common retailers cited.
"What this means," Narvar said
: "Popular retailers have a habit of letting loyal customers keep products instead of returning them, especially if the price of the original purchase is less than what it would cost to process the return. With the global supply chain shortage, one can predict that low-priced items might be harder to come by online due to a lack of inventory and customers being allowed to keep items even if they would've returned them."
A TV news program in the Boston area picked up the story about the growing "just keep it" returns trend, and we were dismayed to hear the co-anchor say it made her want to try it just to see if she could get an item for free.
As more shoppers hear of such policies, it could increase the amount of returns online sellers receive, as people try to get "free" items.
Large retailers were responsible for the myth of "free shipping" and "free returns," which not only pressured smaller retailers to offer such policies, but also resulted in in marketplaces pressuring third-party sellers to offer overly generous policies, calling them "retail standard."
Large retailers get volume discounts from shipping carriers, and they have sophisticated programs that help them decide when to offer a "just keep it" policy to a shopper. But shoppers don't necessarily differentiate between large retailers and small sellers when making returns.
Have you ever encountered a "just keep it" return as a buyer? And have you ever extended this offer to buyers of your own?