Are the largest fashion retailers in the UK creating best-in-class customer experiences after checkout? Put simply: no! In order to pinpoint the standard of customer experience, we conducted research into the checkout, shipping and returns processes of the top 100 fashion brands. Sadly, what we found is that customer centricity usually ends after checkout. Once a customer purchases something, they are left on their own. Having analyzed our data, we have compiled our key recommendations for fashion brands that want to improve their Operations Experience, to outperform their competitors and encouage customer loyalty.
In order to present you with the most helpful, relevant advice as fashion brands, we handpicked 100 top brands to study in-depth. We placed orders with all 100 online shops, and then documented the details of the services they provide their customers. We monitored the end-to-end customer journey, but our focus was the experience customers had post-checkout. We found that UK fashion brands have lots of opportunity to impress their customers. We have compiled our key findings and consequent recommendations for fashion brands to improve the Operations Experience that they deliver.
Our key findings and recommendations
Our of the 100 fashion brands we studied, only 12 retailers offered free shipping. 65 offered free shipping with a minimum order value.
Recommendation: Shipping costs are one of the biggest conversion blockers. Fashion brands should therefore consider offering delivery passes to encourage customer loyalty. It benefits brands and their customers alike!
None of the fashion brands allow the customer to choose their logistics provider.
Recommendation: Most consumers have a preferred delivery carrier. Unfortunately, by not providing customers with this choice, retailers are potentially adding unnecessary frustrations to the customer journey. Providing customers with a choice will help to avoid customer service inquiries from disgruntled customers.
93% of retailers end communication with the customer after dispatch, instead relying on the delivery carrier.
Customers are the most engaged during shipping. They want to hear from you! They're excited and engaged, so why do the vast majority of fashion brands stop communicating with them? Our advice is to reevaluate how you see post-checkout information - stop viewing it is an exercise in logistical updates. Instead, think of post-checkout communication as a way to impress an engaged audience.
99% of fashion brands do not send tailored shipping communications to the customer. And, only 1% send personalized updates.
Recommendation: Retailers should be actively engaging with customers at this point through personalized, branded post-checkout communications. This is a prime stage in the customer journey to upsell products in delivery communications. Ultimately, post-checkout messages are an untapped marketing channel. Take back control of communication to take advantage of it.
For 60% of fashion brands, the parcel tracking is hosted by the logistics provider. 20% provide broken links. 14% don't provide any tracking information.
Recommendation: Did you know that the open rates of tracking emails is upwards of 60%? So why do 74 fashion brands allow the carrier to capture this engaged audience? If this page is hosted in the retailer’s ecosystem then this traffic will feed back to the website, encouraging repurchasing and creating a branded experience the whole way through the customer journey.
Make returns as convenient as possible for the customer, with a variety of options. The most popular returns option is in-store. 64% of fashion brands provide this service. And, 85% of fashion brands allow customers to return goods free of charge. Provide return options as this will help satisfy people in various circumstances with varying preferences.
92% fashion brands refunded returns within three working days. 38% shops processed refunds earlier than they predicted. 24% retailers gave no prediction.
Retailers should at the very least be giving customers a refund prediction. Without this, customers are left in the dark about when they will receive this repayment. Even if brands over-estimate how long it will take, it will serve as a nice surprise if they surpass the expectation. Nonetheless, it is really important to provide an expectation as a guidance.
Overall, fashion retailers provide customers with very little flexibility when it comes to shipping and returns. A surprising number of retailers charge large amounts for shipping or only offer one or two options to the customer. The same can be said for returns options – retailers are limiting the convenience of returns and making their customers work for it.
With a large majority of customer service inquiries being placed after checkout, UK fashion brands have identified this area of the customer journey as an opportunity to fine-tune and optimize the experience. Provide a smooth post-checkout experience to boost customer loyalty, retention and repeat purchases.
Delivery and returns are not simply logistics issues. Equally, it is wasteful to delegate all post-checkout customer contact to a carrier. Keeping communication within your own ecosystem, with consistent branding, enables fashion retailers to control the quality and quantity of the experience they provide their customers. You can find all our research and recommendations in our complete fashion brand study.
We analyzed the end-to-end customer experiences delivered by 100 top fashion brands. Take a closer look at our findings.