SIRAS: Digital Camera Restocking Errors May Increase Returns

By Steve Smith On Jun 20 2011 - 4:01am

REDMOND, WASH. — Digital cameras that have been sold, returned and sold again have an unexpectedly high rate of return on the date of purchase, suggesting that retailers are restocking products which may be unsuitable for resale.

According to a report for TWICE from SIRAS, a provider of product lifecycle tracking services, the majority of total returns for digital cameras, as well as most other products, typically occurs in the two to 15-day period following purchase.

However, the largest percentage of cameras returned for the second time is 50 percent higher on the date of purchase than during the following two- to 15-day period.

“Our analysis showed that items that were restocked and resold had higher return rates than items sold for the first time,” said Peter Junger, SIRAS president.

“We should be looking for reasons to explain the anomaly. The higher rate of return is almost certainly accompanied an increased level of customer dissatisfaction, something retailers are certainly looking to avoid,” he noted

According to Junger, one likely reason for the higher return rate is that new cameras, which typically have many accessories in the camera package, are being returned with missing accessories or documentation.

Retailers that take camera returns without going through a contents checklist for the specific model – provided by the manufacturer or a third party such as SIRAS – are essentially building in a higher return rate when reselling the returned merchandise.

Another reason could be “brick-in-box” returns, where a fraudulent consumer returns an item other than was originally purchased, repackaging the box as though the item is in new condition. Retailers may not open boxes as part of the returns process and mistakenly restock that “brick” on the shelf, only for it to be sold to an unfortunate customer, SIRAS said.

“Aside from the store’s wasted time, there’s the more fundamental fact that it’s increasingly challenging to attract customers,” said Junger. “If consumers are buying a product they want only to have to return it because something’s missing, it can create a negative association with respect to the store. That’s something no merchant wants.”

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