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Drapers Fashion Forum: 'How returns and refunds are sales opportunities'

The in-store returns process needs to be treated with the same significance as sales in a multichannel environment, bosses from House of Fraser, Dune and White Stuff told the Drapers Fashion Forum in London today.

Jeremy Seigal, chief executive of lifestyle retailer White Stuff, said the role of the shopkeeper is changing rapidly with the growth of multichannel and those with bricks-and-mortar stores need to embrace the opportunity to engage with customers face to face.

“One in six of our customers is a multichannel customer and they account for one in three sales by volume, not because of a higher transaction value but because of frequency,” he said.

“The challenge for us is how to track the purchases and customer behaviour of our customer offline – we are doing it very well online but we need to do that for the whole journey with single customer view.”

Daniel Rubin, chairman of footwear multiple Dune Group, agreed: ”The last challenge is in-store data – that will give the whole picture.”

He said that taking back web returns or click-and-collect is changing how retailers view the importance of stores.

“Stores that were unprofitable or marginally profitable can now be used as a beacon for the brand,” he said. “The economics of a store are changing from simply a location to sell from to servicing that customer, with click-and-collect, return to store and so on – it is bringing a major change in how you run the business.”

Nigel Oddy, chief executive of House of Fraser, said click-and-collect currently accounts for 35% of online sales and one in four customers makes an extra purchase while in store.

“One of our KPIs [key performance indicators] for our retail staff is now the conversion of the refund, so we are seeing it as a positive for stores,” he said.

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