They should put the pre-printed return sticker in the package for you, too

Luxury brands and retailers alike talk a big game about giving shoppers a luxury experience. The high-end market is crowded and consumers have more options than ever if they want to buy a particular bag: from a department store, a boutique, the brand’s own stores, the websites of any those stores, websites that don’t have brick-and-mortar stores, eBay, high-end consignment service…you get the idea.

Many of those options carry overlapping stock, especially when it comes to big bag brands, so in order to create loyalty among shoppers, a lot of them like to talk up the intangible benefits of whatever their particular shopping experience provides—the luxury details. If you’re ordering online, here’s the bare minimum of what they should all provide: free shipping, free returns, and a return label sticker already in your package. For a luxury-tier purchase of any price, at any time, brands and stores should be providing that to every customer.

It’s 2018, so most online retailers know that shoppers look for free shipping, and most luxury retailers either provide it for free all the time or above a certain purchase price—usually $150 to $250. Of those retailers, a certain number also provide free returns on anything you don’t want to keep. An even smaller subset of that second group includes a pre-printed shipping label in your package so that returns are as painless as possible. In reality, every high-end fashion retailer on the internet should be doing all three for all purchases, even if you just buy a lipstick, and I will not hear any excuses from them about why they don’t.

Top-tier luxury goods have three things in their favor for retailers: they’re high margin compared to other types of apparel; they result in large total purchases, which is an important metric for retailers; and they are rarely discounted, compared to other apparel price tiers, which helps bottom lines. And yet, lower-end shops frequently have better consumer policies than luxury brands and retailers. For instance, ASOS offers free shipping and returns on all US orders over $40 and includes a return label in all orders, and that’s to get a pair of cheap jeans shipped to you from England. There’s no reason that a huge US department store like Bloomingdale’s, for example, should be charging for shipping on domestic orders under $150. It’s a bad customer experience in a situation that’s supposed to feel like you’re being pampered.

Not only that, but paying for shipping on a high-end purchase has been a last-minute dealbreaker for me personally. Recently I loaded several hundred dollars worth of small items into an online shopping cart—the kind of stuff that could be shipped in a small, padded envelope for only a couple bucks, even at retail shipping prices that are far above what a large-scale corporate client like an online retailer would pay to ship it. When I got to checkout, shipping came to $14 because of the price of my cart. I was being penalized for spending more money with the retailer, even though it wouldn’t affect the actual cost of shipping. I closed the tab. When there are so many online options available, why spend my disposable income with a retailer who’s transparently trying to suck a couple extra dollars out of me where others aren’t, especially when I’m already paying a premium to have a nice experience?

So that, my friends, is my take for the day: luxury brands and retailers who sell online need to stop trying to nickel and dime their shoppers, and they need to make returns as easy as possible. At that price tier, we’re already paying for it in plenty of other ways.

Illustration by Brooke Costello for PurseBlog.

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