Report: U.K. Drops Ball on Returns

Oct 24, 2007 9:10 PM  By

Nobody likes returns, but U.K. online retailers seem to be making it hard to return unwanted goods, according to a study by U.K.-based e-commerce solutions provider Snow Valley.

26% of the retailers assessed in the report enclosed no returns instructions at all with their order, and only a third had a link on their home page containing the word return.

But, the report also found that once the goods had been sent back, 90% of the retailers were able to process the return and refund without further action from the customer. Half of the refunds were made within two working days.

Among the other findings:

  • 41% of retailers paid the cost of returning the goods, with post-paid labels, freepost or couriers
  • 17% refunded the original delivery charge
  • 39% of the retailers with stores did not allow goods bought online to be returned to a shop
  • One of the 14 store returns attempted was refused by shop staff
  • Half of the retailers sent an e-mail or post notification that the refund had been made
  • Clothing retailers were more likely to cover the cost of the return (69% did so), all provided returns information with the order, and 20% had a returns policy of 90 days or more
  • 60% of merchants surveyed said that retailers “should actively promote a hassle-free returns policy”
  • 40% said they “should not necessarily promote a hassle-free policy but they should have one”
  • Six of the companies surveyed have an online returns management system. In which the customer logs their return before sending the goods back.

Carlo Rimini, managing director of Snow Valley said, “Our research shows that there are three types of retailer when it comes to returns. There is a ‘hassle free and proud of it’ set like Boden that actively promote their returns policy to attract new customers. Then there are the retailers like Amazon that keep relatively quiet about returns but once the customer puts the wheels in motion they’re very efficient. And lastly, there’s a group that seems to actively try and make returns difficult for the customer.”