Editor's Comment

Editorial: What’s the true cost of free returns?

Last week the eDelivery newsletter talked about the need for effective delivery and returns in order to deal with a customer that increasingly assumes free returns are a right rather than a benefit.

That theme continues in this week’s newsletter. And it’s little surprise why. Customers are increasingly demanding free returns as a must-have rather than a nice to have and potentially it’s costing retailers dearly.

New research from ParcelHero suggests that the cost of returns could cripple small retailers and lead to more than 200 smaller businesses failing. Such businesses are feeling forced into offering free returns to enable to maintain the customer service ratings that allow them to compete more effectively against bigger rivals but it’s a dangerous strategy that can be devastating to survival.

Recognising the need for a new, customer focussed but retail friendly focussed returns solution is ReBOUND and the company has this week announced that it has recruited a former retailer as operations director with Surfdome’s former head of supply chain operations Raju Dhanhoa joining the business.

Returns is also once again a key topic for the eDelivery Expo (EDX) this March, with the subject being covered extensively at the show, which will be held 21-22 March at Birmingham’s NEC. Want to know what returns strategies will look like in 2020? Or when charging for returns is acceptable? The answers for both will be just some of the questions being addressed at the event.

It’s not just returns that are crippling retailers and their profitability. New research from the Royal Mail this week suggests that delivery is the second biggest cost that UK SME online retailers face, with 32% of retailers expecting it to be their biggest cost this year.

When it comes to last mile delivery Co-op is partnering with Deliveroo for a delivery trial of alcohol and snacks and confectionary in the Greater Manchester area.

For those who are less insistent on the delivery coming to them then news of the rapid growth of the click and collect market over the next five years comes as no surprise with it set to grow by 55.6% by 2022, according to new data.

And finally whilst our memories of New Year may be fading fast – along with the resolutions – for the Chinese at least New Year is still to come. In this week’s opinion piece Jan van Casteren of Flexport, examines the impact of Chinese New Year on retailer’s importing and exporting efforts and explains what to do to prepare.

Image credit: Fotolia

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