How Screwfix is Focusing on Preventing Returns in the First Place


At least 30% of all e-commerce orders end up being returned (Invesp Research). Clearly, customers want convenient, low risk ways to buy and return items. For retailers this brings a crucial new aspect to customer support - a quick and easy returns service. We surveyed 100 Directors of Operations at major European retailers to find out how they’re rising to the challenge and what barriers they’re up against.

46% of Directors of Operations have implemented local drop-off points for customers to return goods. While retailers may have worried that their bricks and mortar stores were becoming obsolete as footfall began to dwindle, physical stores are finding a new lease of life. As the demand for e-commerce increases, physical stores are becoming hubs for click-and-collect orders and returns, making both of these processes quick and simple for nearby shoppers.

70 percent of consumers said they prefer to go to a store to return an item (Retale Study), even if the option of scheduling a home pick-up is available. The process of setting up an appointment can be inconvenient and intrusive. Subsequently, having a physical store has given brick-and-click retailers an edge over their pure-play competitors, which explains why pure-players like Amazon are getting in on the action with their new concept store, Amazon Go.

Our survey also revealed that more than half our respondents offer free returns in Europe, but the split is fairly even, and 48% still don’t. To ignore the demand for free returns could be a damning move, as 81% of potential customers will only go ahead with a purchase if the store offers free returns (CommmerceHub Guide). However, operating a returns process is costly. In fact, it can cost up to eight times the value of the item itself. So how can retailers limit their losses?

Screwfix’s answer is to focus on preventing returns in the first place. Samantha James, logistics development manager at Screwfix explains, “Our core values are all about convenience and helping our customers do their jobs ‘right first time’. Getting the delivery right is a key part of this and supports our trade customers to deliver successful businesses of their own.”

Research indicates that up to two thirds of returns are made because of errors on the side of the seller ( By providing up to date, detailed product descriptions and ensuring processing is accurate, retailers can avoid miscommunications that end up with a customer returning an item. This way, brands can cut the loss, cut the fuss and focus on building customer relationships in the first place, rather than spending more time and money rebuilding them.

Make sure to download the agenda to see how we’ll be tackling these challenges at eTail Fulfilment and Returns 2018.

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