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Drapers Operations Forum: A retailer's solution for easier returns

The etail customer’s experience of fulfilment has become critical in their choice of where they shop and is now a “make or break” factor for multichannel operators, Tony Mannix, chief executive of logistics company Clipper, told Drapers Operations Forum in London today.

Meeting the demands of the “less tolerant customer” is now key, said Mannix. 

“If a customer does not get what they want right away, they will change retailers quickly. If they are unhappy, they will tell the world on social media.”

Clipper operates 42 distribution sites operation in UK and Ireland with 5,000 staff. 

Clipper provides the click and collect service for John Lewis, which now accounts for 65% of the department store’s sales. Half of John Lewis’s customers used the service in the last year, and the rapid rise of click and collect shows how shoppers are forcing change in the industry.

A seamless process in retail returns is also a priority for the customer. In a survey Clipper customer survey, 92% of respondents said they would buy something if the returns process was easy, while 67% check the returns section of a website before they make a purchase.

“The more you create the illusion that delivery occurs in one day, the quicker you need to manage returns,” he says.

Clipper offers a service called Boomerang, which makes returns easier for the retailer by quickly fixing the way a product comes back from the customer and makes it ready for sale again. It also initiates the customer care process.

Mannix predicted the market was “moving to a 12-hour cycle”. He suggested retailers find a way to collaborate better to keep up with the “speed of light, as delivery trucks only travel at 56 miles per hour”.

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