Online fashion retailers need to make sure that any promotions they are running are not misleading.
In an increasingly competitive retail environment, there is pressure to come up with the most eye-catching deals to entice shoppers. But there are legal implications to be aware of.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently announced the outcome of its adjudication into a complaint relating to Missguided’s ‘free UK next day delivery’ claim. By not upholding the claim, the ASA has helped clarify the law regarding ‘next day delivery’.
Next day deliveries
It’s standard practice for online retailers to offer free next day delivery on orders made before a certain cut-off time. The problem is that they are not always able to follow through with the claim, often due to factors out of their control.
In Missguided’s case, deliveries were affected by a combination of a week-long internal warehouse failure and some couriers missing deliveries on Black Friday and Cyber Monday; dates when unprecedented volumes of sales are experienced. This resulted in Missguided being unable to meet some of its next day delivery targets.
The ASA’s position
The ASA took the view that, in order for the next day delivery claim to be substantiated, Missguided had to demonstrate that the complainant’s experience was an ‘exceptional occurrence’. They also had to show that they did consistently deliver items the next working day after an order was placed.
The ASA was ultimately satisfied that the vast majority of deliveries were in fact delivered the next day as claimed, concluding that the next day delivery claim was accurate and not misleading.
Advice to online retailers
To minimise the risk online retailers should consider the following:
- Be prepared for the worst case scenario during peak periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas. The ASA pointed out that high demand during peaks seasons is foreseeable and cannot be used as an excuse by retailers.
- Compensate customers when delivery targets are missed and warn them if the delivery will be late.
- Be wary of giving customers the impression that next day delivery is guaranteed. The ASA is likely to take a much tougher stance where a retailer guarantees delivery and fails to follow through on this promise. Retailers should warn customers that next day delivery can never be guaranteed, highlighting the risk of factors outside of their control.
- By auditing delivery success rates, it should help identify what needs to be corrected internally to help meet requirements.
- For further information or advice please contact Duncan Reed at TLT on 0333 006 0742 or Duncan.Reed@TLTsolicitors.com