The move to introduce returns charges comes a while after Zara and Boohoo did the same but GlobalData apparel analyst Louise Deglise-Favre believes the motive is very different than simply “curbing the costs of returns” as they will remain free for H&M members.
“This decision will likely have a minimal impact on the brand’s sales and might even increase customer loyalty as more consumers become H&M members and are therefore exposed to more promotional content via emails. Since becoming an H&M member is as simple as creating an account with the brand and is free, this new return charge for non-members seems to be more of an incentive for consumers to sign up with H&M than a real attempt at lowering their operational costs.”
H&M says the return fee will be charged per return parcel when returning online orders for non-members which will be deducted from the refund. However, customers will not be charged the fee if an item is determined to be faulty or incorrect and if the online parcel is returned in store.
A spokesperson from H&M tells Just Style that the brand strives to help customers find the right size and fit from the outset, in order to reduce the returns rate.
This system is currently in place in a selection of countries in Europe, including the UK since the beginning of this summer and the rollout is continuing to more markets.
How are popular brands faring on return fees
The Retailer Returns Report from webretailer.com has compared the delivery and returns policies of 40 of the UK’s most popular fashion retailers. It scores and ranks these brands based on qualities such as free delivery options, free returns options and subscription packages and benefits.
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The report which was carried out in July 2023 found that six out of the 40 brands tested (adidas, In The Style, Motel, Nasty Gal, Next, Zara) charged a fee for customers to return an unwanted item, with H&M becoming the seventh brand from this list to charge for returns.
The report suggests the finer details of a brand’s returns policies can often be enough to win or lose customers, all of whom factor in things like subscription benefits, and the price deliveries and returns when shopping online.
Recently, H&M introduced ‘pre-loved’, a new concept offering second-hand garments from a range of brands and designers not limited to H&M Group to its customers in its bid to support a more circular fashion industry.