Insights into International Returns

Oct 10, 2019

Earlier in the Summer, we attended The Hive events, discussing international returns with UK eCommerce retailers. As there were some quite interesting insights that you may find useful, we have decided to tell you about what we found.

We spoke to three groups of retailers, Luxury, medium and well established, and finally newer and more emerging brands.

In all categories, free returns were a running theme in consumer expectations. We discussed that it is more common for higher-end and well-known brands to offer returns for free, whereas it varies from retailer to retailer in the other categories. Higher-end retailers noted that when offering free returns, it raised the rate of returns, making the prospect of returning unwanted items more accessible to all customers, but also causing some issues to profitability.

Another shared customer desire is for quick refunds. In most cases, retailers refund consumers after the product has been received back to the warehouse, however, due to the ambiguity surrounding transit times for returns, this can lead to an increase in consumer contact and long refund waiting times.

All three size of retailer stated they feel there is a need for timely returns to combat these issues, (along with restocking products quickly) but both higher-end and medium established retailers discussed that there is a further want for tracked returns along with the quicker transit times, making returns more closely aligned to outbound services.

Multiple returns options are becoming more common in smaller and medium retailers (drop-off, click and collect, etc), in an aim to make free and cheaper returns more profitable and accessible to all consumers.

While the overall verdict was that each category of retailers had similar views regarding returns, a point made in the medium size discussion introduced a different point of view to the ‘click and collect’ returns option. They explored that market specific options are needed. While Click and Collect returns in France work well (because people can leave the parcel in the mailbox) this is not the same experience of click and collect returns in Britain. Consumers must wait for a collection, so this only works for individuals at home. If this is to become a worldwide service, it would need to be tailored to specific markets, working out kinks along the way.

We also discussed Duty Drawback with our study groups, to which the problem with reimport charges arose. Retailers exporting cross-border found they were getting changed more for re-import fees for returns, whereas we have established a way to claim back Duty on returned items, something which we recently won a World Post and Parcel award in the Cross-Border Innovation category for.

If you would like to hear more about our returns service, or our Duty Drawback innovation, click here to contact us directly.

Recent Posts