Online returns - the key facts

Micros, global technology provider to the retail sector, have published their Online Returns & Refund Report for 2013 which has some interesting insights, here we round up the key facts for retailers.


The report evaluated 222 UK retailers across sectors such as fashion, kidswear, electronics, health and beauty, sportswear, homeware and department stores. Of these 222, 169 were multi-channel retailers and the remaining 53 sold purely online. These retailers were measured on several key areas including: returns options given, the customer procedure involved, associated costs, refunds and return policies.


Only 55% of retailers offered a sufficient choice of returns options


One key finding from the report was that only 55% of retailers offered customer’s a sufficient choice of returns methods. 79% of online retailers only gave one returns option for their customers, 62% of which insisted on post as the only form of return. While multi-channel retailers increasingly allow online returns in store, 41% still do not support this option. These results really call into question the convenience of online returns. However certain sectors do provide better options than others, fashion retailers for example are most likely to offer choice as do the larger retailers.
More than half of retailers provide no returns label in their online packaging
When it comes to customer’s process to return, an astonishing finding is that more than half of retailers provide no returns label in their online parcel. This then forces the customer to contact customer services either via phone or email which is sure to detract from a positive shopping experience and create extra hassle where there should be none. Adding to this hassle is the cost to return, over half of retailers surveyed in this study failed to cover these costs with online retailers being the least likely to cover returns costs.
16% of retailers now use the Collect+ service
One other key fact to note would be the significant increase in Collect+ returns with 16% of retailers offering this service, up by 15% since the previous report in 2010. This would tie in with a recent Drapers article which estimates that click and collect services will be worth £4bn by 2018 due to it’s convenience for customers.


Positives from the report show that 60% of refunds were processed within 4 working days, which is excellent for customer convenience. Although over half of retailers failed to acknowledge this with customers highlighting that much still needs to be done to improve this process.