UK’s leading DTC brands fall short in their returns experience

Following reports of UK shoppers sending back more goods this Christmas than ever before, a new report reveals that the UK’s leading direct to consumer brands – including Huel, Ace & Tate, and Peloton – are failing to provide their customer with an efficient and transparent returns experience.

The study conducted by parcelLab – the global leader in Operations Experience Management – uncovered that just 30% of DTC brands notified the customer that the order had arrived back at their fulfilment centre following the customer’s return. Additionally, the report found that the whole return process took on average 14 days among the 50 DTC brands, with the longest turnaround stretching an unacceptable 33 days. Furthermore, a third (33%) of the orders required the customer to contact the business and enquire about the whereabouts of the refund.

The report also exposed a widespread lack of flexibility and choice that further deteriorated the customer’s experience. The DTC report uncovered further failings in both the choice of return methods offered to the customer and the lack of sustainability messaging throughout the process. With people splitting their time between home and the office it is surprising that 80% of the brands involved only offered one method of return, with only 10% offering three or more methods of return.

While the returns process weighs heavily on a brands carbon footprint, the report found that 55% of the retailers involved did not promote paperless returns – often one of the simplest steps a brand can take to reduce their waste during this part of the order.

Tobias Buxhoidt, Founder and CEO of parcelLab, commented: ‘Returns have always been a pain point for retailers, but with the rapid growth in e-commerce during the last couple of years this has required even greater investment of time and resources. This past Christmas has been another disrupted event with many consumers turning to online shopping rather than in-store shopping. Our latest DTC report highlights how the returns experience is still an unnecessarily lengthy and infuriating process and an area retailers must strive to improve.

With such a large influx of returns expected following the Christmas period it is vital that brands provide clear and transparent communications and keep the customer informed across all stages of the purchase, right through to the returns. It is the brands that offer the customer choice and efficiency that will be remembered as providing the best experience, and subsequently have the greatest chance of attracting the customer again’.

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