Half of UK retailers don’t allow goods bought online to be returned to store, MICROS finds

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MICROS, the leading provider of technology solutions to the retail and hospitality industries, is proud to announce the publication of the 2014 Online Returns and Refunds Report. Now in its seventh year the Online Returns and Refunds report benchmarks UK retailers looking at how they manage the return of unwanted goods bought online.

217 retailers were analysed in this year’s research, 195 of which had a network of stores as well as a transactional website. However, 50% of those store-based retailers were not able to accept the return of an item bought online through one of their shops.

The lack of multi-channel integration found in the report is in contrast to the 2014 Multi-channel Retail Delivery Report, which showed a marked increase in the number of retailers offering click and collect as a delivery option.

Martin Hawkes, vice president of retail at MICROS UK, said: “When we first published this report in 2007, 40% of retailers allowed customers to return items bought online to a store. Seven years on and it’s only increased to 50%. There is clearly a need for greater integration of channels in retail – the growth of click and collect has shown that customers want to shop across channels, and bringing store and web closer together can lead to increased sales and improved customer loyalty for the retailer.”

Although return to a retailer’s store has not increased greatly, the Online Returns & Refunds Report does show an increase in the number of retailers allowing customers to return an item to a corner shop or other Collect+ outlet. 28% of the retailers offered a Collect+ option, compared to 16% last year.

Meanwhile, fewer retailers are offering to send a carrier to collect unwanted goods – only 16% of the retailers offered this as an option, compared to 24% last year.

Overall, 53% of the 217 retailers could offer a choice of returns options to the customer. Post was by far the most popular method, with 86% of retailers giving a post option. 36% insisted on returns by post.

The report also looked at who covered the cost of returning the item. The researchers found 50% of the retailers covered the cost of returning the item, either by providing a postage paid label or by sending a paid carrier to collect the goods.

50% of the retailers refunded the original delivery charge as well as the cost of the item, with 17% of retailers covering both the returns cost and refunding the delivery charge. 25% of the retailer paid neither.

203 of the 213 refunds were processed without any further follow-up by the customer once the item had been returned.

Other findings include:

  • 28 days was the most common returns policy for returning an unwanted item bought online.
  • Only 66% of retailers included returns information in the package this year, compared to 71% last year.
  • Nine retailers had to be chased for a refund, compared to eleven last year.

The research for the MICROS Online Returns and Refunds Report follows on from the MICROS Multi-channel Retail Delivery Report, which was published in January 2014. Read both reports in full here: https://reports.micros-e-commerce.com