Posts

Why fashion retailers are rethinking their returns policies

Glossy – More than ever, the wrong returns policy can make or break a fashion retailer. Shoppers are increasingly buying apparel online, despite the uncertainties that come with it: Choosing the right size is often a crapshoot, even with retailers’ best efforts to provide fit guidance. And, unlike when shopping in store, there’s no way to test a style’s comfort or get a feel for its quality. As a result, returns and exchanges policies have never been under more scrutiny. There’s too much risk involved without the proper cushion.

Online apparel sales now represent 20 percent of total industry dollars, according to data by market research company NPD Group. And 30 percent of clothing and shoes bought online are returned, a rate that’s double that of pieces bought in store, as stated in a report by Bold Metrics. To ensure they aren’t stuck with purchases they’re not happy with, 57 percent of consumers check a retailer’s returns policy before checking out, said a report by SaaS company Narvar.

As retailers increasingly feel the brunt of e-commerce returns, updated guidelines like these are set to become more prevalent, said David Naumann, vp of marketing at consulting firm Boston Retail Partners. “Retail returns policies will likely evolve to moderate returns policies that won’t turn off customers and won’t bankrupt the company,” he said. “A reasonable returns policy will have a realistic time limit and won’t charge shipping for damaged, inferior or exchanged goods.”

On the flip side, there are retailers that have upheld a rigid returns policy from Day 1. But rather than losing money thanks to shoppers taking advantage, they found they were losing customers.

Amazon, the reigning industry benchmark, allows shoppers to return most new, unopened items within 30 days of delivery for a full refund. It also pays the return shipping costs if the return is a result of the company’s error. A study by marketing company Epsilon called ease of returns one of shoppers’ main draws to Amazon.

“Today’s consumers have high expectations; they demand convenient ordering, fast and free shipping, and a friendly returns policy,” said Naumann. “These are now table stakes for retailers, and the cost of these features need to be built into the pricing model for sustainable profitability.”

Read Full Article: Why fashion retailers are rethinking their returns policies

Same-Day Delivery Drives Brand Loyalty and Purchase Intent

TotalRetail – While the holidays come just once a year, a brand’s reputation can easily be damaged and customers quickly lost when expectations aren’t met during the pivotal shopping season. This past holiday season, we saw retailers make changes to their delivery options to provide shoppers with conveniences they increasingly see as essential, like same-day delivery. At the same time, in what’s become an annual ritual, the major shipping providers announced an array of rate increases and late holiday deliveries.

Managing shipping costs is a challenge for retailers, which are already facing tight margins and immense competition. While last-mile delivery, or the final transit of a product to its destination, can be the most expensive and poses numerous challenges for retailers, it’s nonetheless a key differentiator and an offering retailers can no longer ignore.

According to Dropoff’s 2nd Annual Holiday Survey, 60 percent of U.S. holiday shoppers indicated they were more likely to purchase holiday gifts from retailers that offered same-day delivery. It also showed a significant number of consumers — 67 percent — planned to do last-minute shopping, and expected retailers to accommodate their needs. Ninety percent of last-minute shoppers said they were more likely to purchase from retailers offering same-day delivery.

Interestingly enough, Boston Retail Partners’ 2017 Digital Commerce Survey showed that same-day delivery was offered by 51 percent of retailers in 2017. While that number seems significant, more than half of those described their service as “implemented and needs improvement.” It’s clear retailers are headed in the right direction, but there are a few areas to focus on to ensure you’re on the right path to delivering the most cost-effective, efficient and reliable same-day delivery for your customers.

Read Full Article: Same-Day Delivery Drives Brand Loyalty and Purchase Intent

Unified Commerce Solutions Booming; A Third of Smartphone Users Will Pay via Mobile by 2018

ExchangeWire – RetailTechNews’ weekly roundup brings you up-to-date research findings from around the world. In this week’s edition: Unified commerce solutions booming; A third of smartphone users will pay via mobile by 2018; and Mobile email marketing draws level with desktop as m-commerce grows.

Unified commerce solutions booming

By the end of 2020, 81% of retailers will deploy unified commerce platforms, to support commerce across the enterprise’s stores, mobile users and the web, according to a survey by Boston Retail Partners (BRP). This is seen as essential to competing in the omnichannel environment.

The survey finds that 28% of respondents have implemented unified commerce, compared to 9% the previous year. Retailers are making progress on implementing unified commerce platforms. Last year, BRP predicted 73% of retailers would have such a platform in place by 2019, and 22% already had one deployed.

Moving forward, the top three priorities of retailers for the year ahead are:

– Customer identification and personalisation of the customer experience (62%)

– Alignment of the customer experience across mobile apps the web (54%)

– Empowering associates with mobile tools (51%)

Retailers are modifying the technology used to identify customers in their stores by decreasing their use of mobile websites, which declined from 40% in 2017 to 28% in 2018, and increasing the use of Media Access Control (MAC) addresses as unique identifiers by 26%. Also on the rise are beacons (19%), and Bluetooth (16%).

Read full article: Unified Commerce Solutions Booming; A Third of Smartphone Users Will Pay via Mobile by 2018

Vetements visualizes fashion’s waste problem in Harrods takeover

Luxury Daily – British department store Harrods is working with streetwear label Vetements to draw attention to the issue of overproduction.

The Zurich-based brand has taken over four of Harrods’ windows for an installation that showcases how much fashion is wasted. While potentially a counter-intuitive message for a brand and retailer, the project aims to inspire a more sustainable fashion strategy.

“The focus on overproduction will help position Harrods as socially responsible and elevate consumers’ perception of the brand,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “I hope this initiative on overproduction translates into improved merchandise planning strategies for Harrods that result in smarter buying and production decisions that are better aligned with consumer demand.”

“It is an interesting juxtaposition for Harrods to team up with Vetements for this sustainability initiative, as the pragmatic, down-to-earth culture Vetements doesn’t seem like a good fit with Harrods’ luxury, upscale image,” Boston Retail Partners’ Mr. Naumann said. “However, the association with Vetements may create more brand awareness for Harrods among younger demographics who wouldn’t normally shop at their stores.”

“Many consumers’ shopping decisions are influenced by the personality and image of brands,” Mr. Naumann said. “While it might encourage some shoppers to think twice and ask themselves if they really ‘need’ to buy another clothing item, when they buy the next item they need, they might be inspired to shop at Harrods.”

Read Full Article: Vetements visualizes fashion’s waste problem in Harrods takeover

Most retailers likely to adopt unified commerce

Fashion Network – As many as 81 per cent retailers of North America are planning to have unified commerce within 3 years, says a recent report. Elevated customer expectations and disruptive technology are driving the need for retail transformation. The customer journey and associated expectations continue to evolve – driving a major transformation in retail.

Disruption and adaptation are changing the customer engagement model and blurring the lines among retailers, brands and wholesalers, says BRP’s 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Survey. BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients.

The survey offers insights into retailers’ current priorities and initiatives as digital and physical retail environments converge to facilitate a seamless experience across channels.

“Retail and customer engagement models must transform,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP.

“However, the legacy retail applications and infrastructure still in place at many retail organisations are not properly equipped to support changing retail models and continuously evolving customer expectations. To meet the demands of their customer, the retail winners in 2018 and beyond need to accelerate the transformation to cloud-based unified commerce. Victory belongs to the agile.”

Read Full Article: Most retailers likely to adopt unified commerce

81% of retailers will use unified commerce platforms by 2020

Retail Dive – By the end of 2020, 81% of retailers will deploy unified commerce platforms, to support commerce across the enterprise’s stores, mobile users and the web, according to a survey by Boston Retail Partners (BRP). This is seen as essential to competing in the omnichannel environment.

In the online survey of 500 North American retailers, BRP found 28% of respondents had implemented unified commerce, compared to 9% the previous year.

This year’s BRP survey shows that retailers are making progress on implementing unified commerce platforms. Last year, BRP predicted 73% of retailers would have such a platform in place by 2019, and 22% already had one deployed.

Technology and consumer expectations are constantly moving the needle on what is expected from retailers across all channels of their operations.

BRP evaluated how retailers are doing in implementing solutions to meet consumer demands in its “2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey.” Moving forward, the top three priorities of retailers for the year ahead are customer identification and personalization of the customer experience (62%), alignment of the customer experience across mobile apps and the Web (54%) and empowering associates with mobile tools (51%).

“Customers appreciate personalized offers and recommendations when shopping online or via mobile, and now they expect the same personalization, or better, when they shop in a store,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP in a statement. “As customer expectations have been reshaped by the digital retail experience, successful retailers have shifted their focus in the physical store environment.”

Retailers are modifying the technology used to identify customers in their stores by decreasing their use of mobile websites, which declined from 40% in 2017 to 28% in 2018, and increasing the use of Media Access Control (MAC) addresses as unique identifiers by 26%. Also on the rise are beacons (19%), and Bluetooth (16%). There will be continued increases in the use of beacon technology in the near future, according to BRP.

Read Full Article: 81% of retailers will use unified commerce platforms by 2020