Retailers set for hefty returns

​We’ve had Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but now it’s the turn of Boomerang Thursday, when up to 40 per cent of the goods purchased over the cyber weekend are returned.

Clipper Logistics, the firm that distributes goods for blue chip retailers such as Asda, Morrisons, John Lewis and ASOS, said high levels of ordering over the cyber weekend will result in very high levels of returns this week.

In UK fashion retailing, between 25 and 40 per cent of goods are returned and the level is as high as 50 per cent in some European countries.

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Clipper said that all returned goods needs to be checked, reprocessed, repacked and sent back as stock for the next customer in a very timely fashion to ensure the goods can sell at full margin and in the right season.

The group’s founder Steve Parkin said: “It is a very key issue for today’s retailers which have to process returns and refund the money almost as quickly as getting the original delivery processed and out the door.

“The return experience is the final touch point between a customer and the retail brand. A bad returns experience can make a customer fall out with a brand and they’ll shop elsewhere – and tell their friends. Returns management is now viewed as a business critical process.”

He added that social media such as Twitter and Facebook can make issues very high profile very quickly.

Clipper said the speed of the return process needs to be in-line with the outbound ordering process.

“A retailer cannot have a great website and take money easily from a customer but then have a major disconnect with the returns process where the credit back to a credit card taking days or weeks,” said Mr Parkin.

“In just a few years we have moved from ‘please allow 28 days for delivery’ to ‘I expect it tomorrow – the returns process needs to be equally slick.”

Clipper’s said the returns process is now measured in hours not days/weeks for the UK’s largest on-line players.

Clipper, whose shares have nearly trebled since an IPO last year, announced a 27 per cent rise in revenue to £141.5m in the six months to October 31.

​Pre-tax profit rose 53 per cent to £5.5m.

The group said it had seen strong organic growth on existing contracts complemented by new contract wins.

​It has won a number of new contracts and extensions including John Lewis, Zara, Pepkor and Philip Morris​.