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UK fashion retailers focus on free delivery to win back customers post-pandemic

Sadiyah Ismailjee
16 September 2020

UK fashion brands are focusing on rolling out free delivery by 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of winning back online shoppers, according to retail and wholesale digital operations platform Brightpearl.

44% of UK fashion brands contacted for a new study by Brightpearl said they will be introducing free delivery by 2021 and some 34% also plan to offer free returns, whilst 25% are launching Click & Collect by next year.

Brightpearl's study, which spoke to 1,000 retailers also revealed that 65% of retailers are already offering Click & Collect.

CEO of Brightpearl, Derek O’Carroll said: “It’s important to address convenience in the last mile of the customer journey. Though absorbing the costs of both delivery and returns is not without risk for retailers, especially those operating on fine margins in the current climate, it could also be an effective way to expand their customer base.”

With a great number of businesses hit by the COVID-19 crisis, since lockdown started, more than half of the UK’s retailers (56%) plan on shifting their retail focus to online, over the next 12 months. Whilst almost 4 out of 10 (39%) said their online sales are higher than pre-crisis.

Brightpearl's survey revealed that all retailers are now quickly expanding their online services in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and in a bid to attain more online customers.

Free delivery is the most popular option amongst online services to attract customers. While around a third of all retail brands will be offering this, 22% are looking to implement free returns and a further 23% will be offering same - or next-day delivery — all within the next six months.

However, the study warns that when retailers introduce new services, it is essential they get this right and make sure the services function correctly.

The research also revealed that 61% of consumers have experienced issues buying from brands online within the past 12 months alone, with most of these problems related to issues with delivery and returns.

CEO of Brightpearl, Derek O’Carroll added: “Too many online companies offer options they can't fully support. They end up letting down customers who are understandably upset about not receiving items on time, products not being delivered where they should be, or poor communications after their purchase."

"Before thinking of introducing new services to woo customers, retailers must ensure they have the right infrastructure in place to deliver an optimal shopping experience at all ends of the buying journey.”

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