It’s safe to say that Covid has changed everything in the last year. From business to travel, schooling to transportation, remote working to shopping, and beyond. We’ve had to completely rethink and reform how we go about our daily lives. All industries needed to evolve in some way to meet the needs of the changing markets. Now, it’s time for a better solution for returning parcels in the  UK retail market. UK retail must make parcel return easier and safer in 2021.

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Returning parcels

Many know that parcel return has historically never been an easy process. Covid has made it even more complicated, causing further delays with shutdowns and long lines due to social distancing in shops.

It is too inconvenient for customers to take packages to a physical location, especially now with restrictions and long lines. It is too unsafe and increases the risk of further pandemic spikes. Typical parcel returns are also too slow, and customers want refunds back in their bank accounts quicker. How parcel returns are handled should be a key concern for online retailers. It is a highly significant key differentiator for UK businesses as well as a legal requirement for distance selling. Ecommerce businesses must dissect their returns policy to make sure they’re guaranteeing the best and most convenient solution for their customer returns.

“92% of consumers will purchase again from a retailer if the returns process was easy.”

This was a statistic released by the Interactive Media In Retail Group (IMRG). They know that online buying behaviour is increasing, and digital shoppers demand more from online retailers. They also said that 67%of customers check the returns policy before making a buying decision.

Not all retailers have a return policy, and they are not required to by law. However, the ones that do have a return policy will make you send a parcel to a mail location like a PO box or warehouse. Here it may sit for a long period of time before being reviewed, delaying refunds for customers.

It is a must for online retailers to revisit their process of how to return a parcel. It will be more advantageous to a positive customer journey and the profit margin of the business.

 

Parcel return needs innovation

Nowaday’s everything can be brought to us in the comfort of our own homes. We order food online. We order toilet roll online. We order clothes online. We order electronics and other accessories online, and it arrives at our doorstep. It’s a very convenient time to be alive! We are afforded these great home delivery benefits in a modern 21st-century world. So, why doesn’t it work the same way with eCommerce returns?

The market has not quite innovated itself enough for the other half of the customer experience. Amazon does it’s best to do this on some level; however, it’s not uniform across the board, and they only cover customer returns to Amazon facilities. There are few companies spending time on this other half of the online retail process. It needs innovation. For example, clothing retail.

According to a study by Sale Cycle in 2020, over 56% of online returns were clothing and shoes. What does this tell us?

It tells us that those 56% (millions) of consumers were partaking in a transaction that may or may not have led to future business with those retailers. It tells us that parcel returns are just as important as the products that are being sold. Why? Simply put, your customers will not return to you if it isn’t easy.

“82% of customers do not return to make another purchase if an online store has a difficult returns process.”

Sending a return via Royal Mail or the post office is time-consuming, and it can take up to 30 days or more for customers to finally see a refund in their bank account. Strategically, a package must travel from the customers home and then into a building like a post office where the package is then held. It must then be moved to a truck from that facility, then finally sent to the retailer. This process is antiquated and not sustainable as convenience and speed are critical factors for customer satisfaction nowadays.

 

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Four ways UK online retail can offer a competitive parcel return process

Online businesses and retailers know that handling returns can be costly and create severe time constraints. Being able to stay profitable and focus on other business priorities can fall behind when managing the entire return process, from receiving the package to issuing a refund. It takes away from other stresses like marketing, customer service, and general administration.

“57% of retailers say that dealing with returns has a negative impact on their business’s day-to-day running.”

More retailers can take advantage of a tech-first solution that is quicker, safer, and easier than the typical return process. You can be more competitive in the marketplace by making customer returns as easy as possible. This is done through:

1) Automated parcel return platform

No one likes having to review a return policy on the retailer website, then have to find locations for the drop-off, then figure out a convenient time for them to return a parcel. Returns management software helps manage the process more effectively and reduces errors.

2) Courier pickup

The courier goes to the customer instead of the customer finding time to do it in their own busy schedule. The customer either have to research retailer drop-off points or search “parcel drop off near me” and go out to do it.

 

3) Quicker return deposits

In an age of instant gratification the quicker the bank deposit, the happier the customer.

4) Offer free return shipping

Already being unhappy with an item is enough. Asking to fork out more money on top of that is just bad business. 58% of customers want a hassle-free “no questions asked” UK return policy.

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Return Robin

New service Return Robin offers the most innovative parcel return solution, efficiently managing the typical frustrations for retailers and customers. Return Robin is the new industry standard that includes all the benefits above of automation, courier pickup, and pre-printed labels. They even offer instant refunds.

 

Socially distanced returns

Return Robin was created in response to Covid-19. It allows people to return products without having to leave their home. Spotting this innovation for online shopping returns, they were recognized and received part funding by Innovate UK, a government-funded project for these types of new strategies.

This benefit helps to prevent any further pandemic spikes during this challenging period in the world. Customers everywhere appreciate this, especially the older, more vulnerable demographics. Giving the customers the confidence to buy and return online from their own homes’ comfort and safety is an “above and beyond” service. This factor alone can future proof your business by making it available to your customers. Return Robin also offers a uniquely integrated tech platform.

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Custom website integration

Custom website integration allows online retailers to merge their web portal with Return Robin. It’s a simple and unique design that makes it easy for anybody to sign up. It automates customs paperwork, EORI numbers, and product pricing information. Extra validation also ensures compliance. If that’s not enough, they also can offer their customers instant refunds.

Instant refunds

Return Robin has partnered with Banked to streamline the money refund process. Within minutes of the courier receiving the package, the code on the label is scanned and triggers the instant money refund into the customer’s account. This is not only beneficial to the customer but adds that mesmerizing extra “wow factor.” This is a significant benefit that will soon gain momentum, quickly becoming the industry’s gold standard. It is best to get in early on this new frontier of online retail refunds.

Happy black man working at a desk on his laptop

The parcel return process

The Return Robin process is as simple as 1-2-3. This is how it works:

Step 1

Return Robin receives the return request from the customer. They only need to login onto the Return Robin portal, find their retailer, their product, and select it. The customer then schedules their own custom pick up date and time.

Step 2

The customer, on the day of delivery, is given a 2-hour window for pick up. They put the item in their package, and then Return Robin collects the parcel at the customer’s home. Return Robin has already pre-printed the shipping label with all the product and retailer details and places it on the parcel at pickup. They scan it and issue the refund.

Step 3

Return Robin then delivers the package back to the retailer within two working days! Having already set up an account, the retailer chooses precisely where they would like the return parcel to go.

As you can see, no more travelling for customers, no more long refund delays, and no more headaches. No further drop-off points or searching online for “parcel drop off near me.” Even your collect plus account can be integrated with Return Robin. The account will show up inside the Return Robin portal.

It’s perhaps time for online retailers to review their UK returns policy and free up resources by outsourcing to a 3pl like Selazar.

 

What is the average eCommerce parcel return rate?

One report has shown that 30% of all products ordered online are returned. Unlike brick-and-mortar retail, eCommerce requires customers to decide without physically interacting with a product. There are many reasons for returns. However, this is one of the biggest reasons why returns are so typical for UK retail online. Here are some of the biggest reasons for returns, according to a UPS survey of over 18,000 people.

Why do people return parcels?

Of 18,000 surveyed across 15 global markets, it showed:

  • 30% returned an item that was faulty or damaged
  • 27% returned an item because it was not as described
  • 27% returned an item because it was of low quality
  • 18% returned an item because of issues with delivery
  • 17% returned an item because they no longer wanted it

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Some industries tend to get more refunds than others. The fashion industry is by far the most common industry for returns.

 

Online fashion shopping has the worst return statistics

2020 was the biggest year for UK online shopping. According to Royal Mail last year, 61% of online shoppers returned clothing, and 35% returned footwear. Almost 4 out of 10 people said the clothing didn’t fit. Nearly 20% said the item wasn’t as described.

January is one of the most significant months for parcel returns. Many items bought with either gift cards or gifts given as presents from friends and family tend to cause a month of return headaches for retailers.

The new “try before you buy service” offered by many UK online brands such as BlackCart,  Stitch Fix, and Prime Wardrobe are slowly easing consumer worries about buying before trying physical products. However, there is still a significant uptrend of parcel returns. That is just the nature of fashion.

When customer returns do happen, sending back unwanted goods for free is preferred by 85% of people surveyed.

Preparing for the golden quarter and peak seasons

The time around Black Friday and the lead up to Christmas are some of the busiest times for many eCommerce brands. To deal with the overwhelming surges of sales and returns, it helps to outsource to a third-party logistics provider. Extra demand means additional refunds.

A 3pl  like Selazar helps retailers with a better buying journey and encourages loyalty to their brand. The first impression with a brand many times if often during this quarter, so retailers need to ensure they are well equipped to deal with the demand.

 

 

3 Ways to reduce customer returns for your eCommerce business

Here are three powerful ways to reduce eCommerce returns for businesses.

1. Make secure packaging a priority

Depending on what products you offer, there are different packaging considerations. Whether it’s a single item or multiple items, you have to predict the shipping ramifications. Any products that are broken or damaged due to a poor packaging process are among the biggest reasons for returns. Damage can easily happen in transport or couriers could mishandle packages when the item is fragile.

2. Audit your product descriptions

Quality matters when you’re writing a product description. Make sure to include as much product detail as possible about all your items. Poor descriptions or descriptions that don’t match the products will lead to many online returns for your eCommerce business. Accurate product descriptions also increase conversion rates.

3. Quality test the products themselves

Customers will understandably be unhappy with an item if it appears to be of low quality. Low quality could mean anything from lousy printing to cheap fabric or scratches. Take extra care of the customers’ expectations for the products you offer, and you can significantly reduce your parcel returns.

 

Do 3pl’s offer parcel returns?

Not all 3pls offer customer returns. Companies like Selazar can return a parcel. They not only handle your inventory, but they assist with the customer returns process. The Selazar return management portal makes it easy for businesses to do this from anywhere. All the company has to do is log into their portal and approve the return. Handling customer returns is seamless integration with their advanced tech platform.

Return Robin is the sister company for Selazar; therefore, all customers will be able to use the Return Robin returns service with Selazar. Together these brands will help eCommerce stores and online retailers ensure quick and safe delivery for their customers. On top of custom packing, instant refunds, and superior service, customers will reward these brands with loyalty and increased profit margins.

 

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