Jonas Hamers / ImageGlobe

End to free online purchase returns in sight?


Captain of industry Wouter Torfs is pressing for urgent changes to the way we go shopping online.  Shoppers are able to return goods free of charge.  Mr Torfs’s shoe company is getting 26% of online purchases returned, while among bigger players the figure is often 60%.  It’s untenable he says.

Mr Torfs says the rise of online has radically changed the retail landscape.  At the Torfs shoe company online sales make up 16% of sales. Consumers are also spending more on entertainments like Netflix and smartphones and less on clothes and footwear.

The footwear supremo believes high street shops still have a future, but that the “experience” dimension needs to be beefed up.

But when he looks at the number of free returns of online purchases a frown graces Wouter Torfs’s face.  He says he doesn’t want to become the first Belgian web shop to end free return of online purchases, but believes the situation – with 26% returns for his company alone – is untenable. He believes the matter must be settled by European legislation to maintain a level playing field and points to the benefits: fewer vans to-ing and fro-ing!

Wouter Torfs also urges Belgian consumers to shop at Belgian online retailers because nowadays a lot of cash is flowing abroad and isn’t benefitting the Belgian economy.  Moreover, he accuses Belgian consumers of often being two-faced: “We all want to be as politically correct as possible, but as far as our wallet is concerned, we want the cheapest! We don’t ask where it’s made or how.”  

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