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Digital Forum: Returns should be dealt with as quickly as dispatch, experts say

Retailers must put the same focus on the speed of returns as the speed of dispatch, according to panel of experts at today’s Drapers Digital Forum.

Speaking at today’s event Jonathan Pilbro, vice president fashion retail at DHL Supply Chain, said that where in the past retailers could leave returns in a pile to deal with at a later time, it was now vital to process them as quickly as possible.

Rob Feldmann, chief executive at BrandAlley, who was also on the panel, agreed saying the the etailer now aims to get a returned product back available to sell within two days. Current return rates at BrandAlley average around 20%.

Alison Conway, global director of ecommerce at Belstaff, said an increase in product images from three to five visible thumbnail image options as well as clear product descriptions all have an impact on this figure. She said the next challenge for Belstaff was to work on a clear size guide to assist customers buying online.

The panel had different views on the cost of returns for the customer.

Belstaff offer free returns while BrandAlley charge the customer postage costs based on the weight of the product.

But Felmann concluded: “There is a strong possibility you will lose a customer if the returns experience is poor. With the cost of recruiting new customers going up and up, it is now more important than ever to retain current customers.”

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