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Half UK multichannel retailers do not enable store returns of online purchases: research

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Half of UK multichannel retailers do not enable goods bought online to be returned in store, new research has found.

In its 2014 Online Returns and Refunds Report, retail solutions vendor Micros analysed the services of 217 retailers, of whom 195 had a network of stores. But 50% of those store-based retailers could not accept returns that crossed sales channels.

Micros says the situation has not improved markedly since its first report on the subject seven years ago.

Martin Hawkes, vice president of retail at Micros UK, said: “When we first published this report in 2007, 40% of retaiers 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 customers want to shop across channels, and bringing store and web closer together can lead to inceased sales and improved customer loyalty for the retail.”

Areas that have seen change include the growing use of returns to corner shops. Some 27% of retailers offered a Collect+ option in the 2014 report, compared to 16% last year. But fewer are now offering to send a carrier to collect returns: 16% now do so compared to 24% last year.

Just over half (53%) offered a choice of return options, with 86% offering a post option and 36% insisting on returns by post.

Half of retailers covered the cost of returns, either through a postage-paid label or by sending a paid carrier, while the same proportion refunded the original delivery charge as well as the cost of the item. A quarter (25%) paid neither.

The report also found that 28 days was the most common time limit for returning an unwanted item bought online, nine retailers had to be chased for a refund, and only 66% of retailers included returns information in the package, down from 71% last year.

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