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Loss Prevention

Busted by the B-tag

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It’s one of those things that really get under retailers’ skin. Women purchase a pricey special occasion dress for a night out, find a way to tuck the tags inside the garment when they wear it, then return it to the store shortly after.

Bloomingdales has had enough of this underhanded strategy and has come up with a way to address the problem. The high-end department store chain is now affixing a 3-in. black plastic tag to many of its high-fashion garments. The tags, dubbed b-tags, are attached in highly visible places; once a customer removes the tags, Bloomingdales won’t take back the garment. Along with the tag is a stern warning not to remove it unless the buyer plans to keep the dress in her closet for seasons to come.

How big is this problem? A recent NRF/Retail Equation survey found that 65 percent of retailers said shoppers had returned used products, while 97 percent said they had processed returns on stolen goods. While it remains to be seen how many retailers will borrow the b-tag approach from Bloomingdales, some, including Nordstrom, insist they will not veer from current strategies.

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