InPost lockers are to act as free returns drop-off points for customers of the N Brown Group of retail brands, best known for fashion names such as JD Williams, Simply Be, Jacamo and Figleaves.
The Group, which closed 18 clearance stores in August and is pursuing a strategy of digital-first for its brands, recorded turnover of £415m in the first half of its current financial year. It has 4.15m active customer accounts, with an online penetration of 63% among existing customers, and a slightly higher 69% among new ones.
Customers will be able to print a self-service returns label, affix it to the item and deposit it at one of InPost’s 1,100 locker banks across the UK.
N Brown offers next-day delivery with a 9pm cut-off, and has seen growth in click-and-collect orders, which are available on most – but not all – of its products.
John Cusick, Head of Distribution at JD Williams, said: “Across our range of fashion, household and electrical goods brands, our customers need shopping to fit in with their busy lives, so we’re always looking for innovative ways to improve the experience. Offering InPost as one of our returns options gives our customers the freedom to change their mind without being out of pocket or having to go out of their way – so we expect it to be a popular addition.”
Ian Caminsky, CEO at InPost UK, said: “N Brown Group is home to a great mix of some of the UK’s leading retail brands, so we’re excited to be joining forces with them to simplify the online returns process and make it easier and more convenient for their customers. Rather than having to make a special trip to return items, shoppers can now do it in seconds at a location that fits in with their lifestyle, anytime of the day or night.”
The eDelivery View
Although lockers haven’t been as widespread or as popular in the UK as in other parts of Europe, there is a clear role for them in meeting the diverse needs of a varied, and demanding, customer base. As technology becomes increasingly commonplace, and more day-to-day tasks are routinely automated – such as self-service supermarket checkout – some of the public’s resistance to using them will erode.
In Germany, the Packstation network, operated by DHL/Deutsche Post, is one of the largest and most ambitious locker networks in Europe. In Ireland, Nightline’s ParcelMotel network is continuing to grow strongly. Pushing more into the mainstream can only help the likely adoption of lockers by UK retailers and shoppers alike.