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RXUK TOP500 Retailers moving away from universal free delivery

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The newly published RetailX UK Top500 has tracked the number of retailers offering free delivery for nearly a decade. It found retailers are moving on from universal free delivery – a promise that 17% make in 2024, down by 1pp on last year.

Instead, more than half (51%, unchanged on last year) are opting to offer free delivery only when shoppers spend a minimum amount.

The below chart looks back at how 250 Top500 retailers’ promises on free delivery – tracked on these metrics over the last eight years – have changed. They show that while the proportion of retailers offering free delivery on all orders peaked at 18.2% in February 2018, it has since declined to 13.2% in February 2024. A strategy of offering free delivery only when orders reach a minimum value has gradually risen, from 48.7% in February 2016 to 54.7% in February 2024. 

Standard delivery now takes slightly longer than last year, at 5.24 days – 0.03 days longer than last year, on average. The median retailer promises standard delivery within five days, the same as last year. 

More than half offer next-day delivery (-1pp to 53%), while other delivery options include, in order of availability, Saturday delivery, offered by 26%, the same as last year, Sunday delivery (-1pp to 13%), and same-day delivery (4%, unchanged). 

Shoppers are guaranteed to be able to return an unwanted online order for up to 14 days, under UK law. When buying from a Top500 retailer, most will find prepaid returns available (+2pp to 67%), while 66% (unchanged on last year) enable returns by post. 

More than half (-1pp to 58%) support return to store, and 34% (+1pp) will collect a return from the house, while relatively few support returns via drop off at a third-party site. A little more than a quarter (-3pp to 26%) will now refund the original cost of shipping, while 23% (+1pp) offer a recycling scheme for products. Where there’s a fee for returns, the average is £11.50 and the median is £6. Both are unchanged on last year.

How F.Hinds manages its fulfilment strategy
Jeweller F.Hinds is a leader in the Operations Value Chain for the way it adds value through its fulfilment promises. Multichannel services, such as click and reserve, pay and collect, and instore returns – all available from all of its 115 UK stores – make for a more convenient service while at the same time reducing the cost of alternative delivery or returns services. 

Shoppers can see estimated collection dates from the product page and find their nearest branch using the F. Hinds store locator. Returns of unwanted items can be made immediately on collection, or for up to 30 days afterwards, either to a store or by post. 

Economy delivery takes up to four working days. This is free when shoppers spend £25 or more and £2.99 below that amount. Next-day delivery is also available at a premium.

This is an excerpt from the Operations Value Chain section of the newly published RetailX UK Top500 2024 report. Download the full report for a look at the Customer Value Chain; the Product Value Chain; and the Capital Value Chain. There is also an exclusive interview with Elite retailer Screwfix, and company profiles on Amazon, Ikea, Next, Asda, Dunelm, Boden, Richer Sounds & Very.

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