Oct 24, 2019
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Most UK fashion retailers neglect customers post-checkout says study

Oct 24, 2019

UK fashion retailers are neglecting their customers once a sale has been achieved. That’s the conclusion of a new study from 
post-checkout communications specialist parcelLab that analysed the checkout, shipping and returns of the top 100 UK fashion retailers. It reached its results by placing fashion orders with retailers and then seeing what happened.

Hugo Boss is one of the retailers to be ranked highly in a UK delivery and returns comms study

The study highlighted three standout UK retailers when it comes to the checkout, shipping and returns process. JD Sports was awarded ‘Best Customer Experience’, Missguided ‘Best Brand Experience’ and Hugo Boss ‘Best Personalisation’. 

But they were rarities and the report said “93% of the UK’s leading fashion retailers neglect their customers after checkout” and an even more worrying 99% of the UK’s top 100 “stop marketing to their customers as soon as they have made an online purchase”.

The retailers it looked at included luxury, premium, hight street, pureplays, specialists and department stores, and it found strategy missteps throughout.

Of course we all know that customers hate it when they're bombarded with marketing comms after even the tiniest purchase, from the “how did we do” emails to endless offers for products similar to those they’ve already bought.

But there’s a middle way that can help brands and stores stay in touch without being OTT and keeping in contact during the shipping process is a key way of making the shopper feel good about their purchase. Yet it seems many stores aren’t doing anything about it.

The UK E-Commerce Shipping Study 2020: Fashion Edition study said “customer centricity ends soon after checkout: once a customer makes a purchase, they are left on their own to navigate the shipping and returns process for themselves”.  

Another surprising finding from the study was that 99% of the retailers are failing to provide customers with a personalised post-checkout experience by not sending tailored shipping communications. 

“Retailers should be actively engaging with customers at this point through personalised, branded post-checkout communications,” said Katharine Biggs, Content and Marketing Manager at ParcelLab. “This is a prime stage in the customer journey to upsell products in delivery communications and currently only one retailer is doing this.”
That’s clearly a big mistake, because the opening rate of tracking emails is around 60%, way above the open rate for most retailer comms. But 74 fashion retailers “are actively missing out on capturing an engaged audience by allowing their logistics carrier to host parcel tracking”. And 60% of customers are directed to the carrier’s Track & Trace page, while only one in four retailers direct customers to a branded Track & Trace page, albeit rarely hosted in the retailer’s domain. 
And not one of the retailers allows the customer to choose their logistics provider — potentially adding unnecessary frustrations to the journey, especially for those customers who have a preferred delivery carrier, the report said. It could have added that this would also be a plus for those customers who have a non-preferred carrier as a quick glance at the social media chatter around some parcels firms shows how disliked a few of them are and how more choice could help to clinch a sale. 
Among the other findings, only 12 fashion retailers offer free shipping and another 65 only offer it once a minimum order value (MoV) has been reached, despite free shipping being a key sales tool. 

Only 16% offer a time slot for delivery and only 31% an exact delivery date, despite both of these features being very popular with shoppers. As many as 57% give a predicted date range (which can mean frustration when parcels are delivered earlier than expected as much as when they’re delivered later) and 14% give no prediction at all. 

Were there any positives in the report? Well, UK retailers have been proven to keep their delivery promise almost all of the time. For 85 of 86 retailers who gave a prediction, the parcel arrived early and during the predicted delivery period. Only one parcel arrived later than promised.
The returns process also highlights a difference in service mentality. The most popular option is in-store returns for 64% of the fashion retailers, followed by Royal Mail returns – of which 51% include a pre-paid label in the box, while as many as 11% expect customers to arrange the return themselves, something we’d have thought would have been rare these days. 
“The UK’s fashion retailers have invested heavily in the customer journey prior to checkout, [but] customer centricity is forgotten as soon as the customer makes a purchase,” Biggs said. “The retailers are focusing on getting the parcels to the customer as cheaply and efficiently as possible, potentially at the detriment to their relationships with customers. Fashion retailers are failing to utilise an untapped additional marketing channel post-checkout.”

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