Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Buy Now, Decide Later...

It's funny how shopper behaviour changes based on the shopping experience offerred by a retailer/producer. Although it seems it's always the retailers/producers trying to customize the experience to the shoppers' needs; but shopper experience and behaviour actually run in a spiral, one impacting the other turn by turn until the dynamics of the shopping industry are changed. During my time in North America, I was simply amused and flattered by the return policies. 'Buy Now, Decide Later' is the tempting offer by H&M where often the wait lines outside changing rooms are extremely long. 
Ikea flaunts its loving arms with 'It's OK to change your mind' policy of 90 days. Many clearance outlets including GAP factory outlet and Banana Republic Factory Outlet also give up to 90 days to return merchandise. 
I am the kind of shopper who hates changing or trying out new clothes in the change room, specially when it comes to pants! I'm always in a rush with my baby and especially lazy to try on clothes in winters when you're layered up too much or wearing those unfriendly boots that make it difficult to change over and over again so for me the generous return and exchange policies are simply a treat. But I often wonder if shoppers take advantage of this and if merchandisers end up wasting too many man-hours in just beeping down reverse sales. 

Well according to a research many shoppers DO take undue disadvantage of this. Overall retailers estimate that 4.6 percent of holiday returns are fraudulent. However I think most shoppers (including myself) are too lazy to go back for returns and exchanges and end up keeping what they had bought either for themselves or as a gift to someone else, which is why such a policy does not appear to harm H&M. And I do admit that such cozy policies can turn you into a bit of shopaholic!

On a recent trip to Pakistan I got jugs from a small crockery shop in Karachi and when I came home and poured water out of those jugs into glass, it seemed like they had a serious manufacturing issue! No matter how many different ways I tried it, with however less or more water I  tried it, the spillage was inevitable  So at the dinner table I conveniently announced that I was going to take the jugs back to the shop for an exchange or refund at which my brother-in-law quickly mocked at me saying 'This isn't Canada'..., where you can go exchange jugs or whatever else after having an unsatisfactory experience. I stood corrected and never ventured out to actually change the jugs. 

To my pleasant surprise though I've recently been noticing that at least the bigger retailers in Pakistan are showing some flexibility when it comes to exchanges; if not so much for refunds yet. For example Khaadi has a 30 day exchange policy but nothing can be refunded. However international retailers are better at this, e.g MotherCare (Pakistan) has a 14 day exchange or refund policy for most items. I believe as more and more international brands enter the Pakistani market with their generous shopper flattering policies, the more the top tier local brands would be forced to shed some love too - and the lower tiers should follow suit! 
And even where there's no clear policy it's always worth going back trying to return / exchange an item that you honestly consider a shopping mistake - sometimes you would be surprised how lenient that guy at the till can be! Happy shopping and hopefully lesser returning ;) 

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