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Saturday 06 June 2020


Web return capability is a 'key retail differentiator'

Written by Peter Walker

Linking online sales to in-store pick-ups and returns is one of the biggest challenges, and differentiating factors in omnichannel success for retailers.

This is according to a variety of experts speaking at the eTail Europe conference in London yesterday, who shared their experiences of using technology and staff training to improve the customer journey.

Gail Banim, director of e-commerce and marketing for the Anthony Nicholas Group - which runs Fraser Hart and Fields the Jeweller - explained that her company has faced a variety of communications challenges between stores and the web.

“You’ve got to embrace web returns, rather than resent them, which is fair enough as they can be time-consuming when you’ve got people wanting to actually buy things in-store,” she stated.

“But with the right approach, they can be turned into an opportunity, by getting people to make additional purchases while they’re there – with lovely layouts and in-store discounts.”

Louisa Nicholls, head of trade marketing at John Lewis, said that Click and Collect has been a big online sales growth driver and mentioned this week’s announcement of a deal with Waitrose to let people return items to the drivers who deliver their groceries.

“You have to adapt to what customers want – a few years ago at these conferences we were all talking about ways to prevent people abusing returns policies, but now we’ve mostly accepted that’s the way many people shop online, so it’s about coming up with ways of making that easier and less environmentally damaging,” she commented.

Brian Sivyour, head of IT portfolio for buying and merchandising at River Island, admitted that his team probably still doesn’t plan as well as they might for the amount of clothes that are bought and returned, with Nicholls agreeing that even with tech tools, it’s still hard to predict the balance.


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