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Post Christmas returns surge begins in earnest

More than £2.5 billion of goods will be returned to retailers this year – with the majority returned between mid-December to mid-January, according to LCP Consulting.

Returns were predicted by the Royal Mail to double yesterday compared to the number of returns parcels per day in December, on what has been dubbed Takeback Tuesday, as shoppers looked to exchange or get refunds on unwanted Christmas presents or Sale impulse buys.

Royal Mail’s study showed that three in four customers buying women’s clothing return an item. Clothing (75%), footwear (38%) and electrical goods (37%) were in the top three most commonly returned items.

Changing customer expectations around ease of delivery mean that 81% of consumers say they prefer returns labels to be included with purchases. Almost nine in ten would consider themselves likely to shop with a retailer again if re-sealable packaging was provided.

The Royal Mail study also showed that customers wanted to be updated on returns too with 96% saying that it’s important to get notified of a refund upon their item being returned. 75% both consider it important to have guidance about which returns label to use and to get refunded quickly after a return whilst 73% want to be able to track the status of their item.

Nearly half (47% of shoppers) said they would be unlikely to shop with a retailer again if it charged for returns and three in five shoppers expect to receive free returns regardless of the amount spent.

Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said “January is the busiest time of year for returns. Having an easy way to return online purchases is a crucial part of the online shopping experience. For retailers everywhere ensuring their returns experience is in line with consumers’ expectations is incredibly important.”

Stuart Higgins, director – retail, at LCP Consulting, a BearingPoint company, said improvements still need to be made to the returns process however: “Retailer returns processes are improving, but our annual survey of leading retailers continues to highlight that returns speed/efficiency ranks less important in the minds of retail directors than other supply chain factors, which is surprising given that 70% of consumers say that returns capability is top of mind when selecting where to buy from online.

With online returns exceeding £2.5billion from this year’s festive shopping period, forward-thinking retailers need to ensure that they’re operating fast efficient, customer-centric returns processes so customers get their cash back faster – an important part of over customer satisfaction,” he said.

Image: Fotolia

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