Half of UK retailers allows items to be returned to a store

There’s still a massive lack of multichannel integration in the United Kingdom, as 50% of retailers with stores, still don’t allow unwanted goods bought online to be returned to a store. This number hasn’t really changed in the last seven years, a new study shows.

Retail solutions vendor Micros analyzed 217 UK retailers (companies like Argos, Adidas, Burberry, Harrods, and Zara), of which 195 had a network of stores. And it seems, only half of these retailers allowed items to be returned to a store. “This is surprising”, Micros writes in the report. “Back in 2007 when we started this research, the percentage of retailers that allowed return to store stood at 40%, which suggests that this has not been a significant priority for the other 60% that did not allow it at that time.”

And that’s kind of weird when you also read that 44% of retailers can now offer click and collect, ie allowing customers to buy online and pick up from a store. But when you as a retailer give customers this option, why not the other way around: returning items they bought online at a store?

Customers get a choice of returns options
The study also shows that 53% of the retailers gave the customers a choice of returns options. A marked increase was shown in the number of retailers offering a Collect+ option, which allows customers to return their items to one of over 5,000 corner shops or other Collect+ members. While 16% of the retailers tested gave customers this Collect+ option last, this year the share of retailers having this option increased to 28%. Post is still the most popular option, with 86% of the retailers offering this. A carrier collection became less popular, as it went down from 24% to 16%.

50% covers returns cost; 50% didn’t refund original delivery charge
Another key finding from the study is that half of the retailers covered the cost of returning an item, either by sending a paid carrier or by providing a postage paid label. One in six retailers paid both the cost of the return and refunded the original delivery charge. But on the other hand, half of the retailers did not refund the original delivery charge.

Returns in the United Kingdom