ParcelLab shows holes in customer returns experience

E-commerce operations platform ParcelLab has released a report showing that UK retailers are failing to build customer experience into parcel returns. This risks losing future sales and shoppers’ loyalty as a result of black holes and a lack of choice in the returns process.

The “Operations Experience 2021 – How Does UK Retail Measure Up?” report is based on responses from 150 UK retailers. It benchmarked retailers’ performance across key metrics that included checkout, shipping and returns. It showed the average number of options offered by UK e-retailers was just two. More than a quarter gave one option, resulting in friction with the customer.

Julian Krenge, co-founder and CTO of ParcelLab, said, “Retailers who don’t cater for the needs of customers in the returns process risk eroding customer loyalty and losing future sales, just at the time they need to be capitalising on the accelerated and sustained shift to e-commerce.”

ParcelLab’s research also showed that despite lockdown, 54% of retailers were still asking people to return items to physical stores. Though 48% offered a mail returns service, more than a quarter still expected customers to pay for their own returns – this is despite high level research suggesting that free returns results in higher customer loyalty. For example, Royal Mail has shown that where there’s a poor returns experience, 60% of customers will not return to a retailer.

A number of major carriers are offering improved returns experience services such as Royal Mail’s Parcel Collect and Hermes’ What’s in the Box? These services allow their client companies to improve their customer experience where it comes to returns.

According to Brody Buhler, managing director – consulting, post and parcel, Accenture, posts are well positioned to help retailers streamline returns: “The question for post and parcel organizations is how they can support retailers in making returns as fast, friction-free, and cost-effective as possible.”