How retailers treat shoppers when they need to return a product is a crucial factor in the overall customer experience.

Having been displaced from my home by building works in the run up to Christmas, I realised that I’d used this interlude as an excuse to put the task of shopping for gifts to the back of my mind.


Parcels made easy

It then dawned on me that, with just seven shopping days to go, I was either going to have to brave my local town centre, or armed with credit card I could hit the virtual high street and get everything delivered to my local convenience store, or to my home.

Our team at Collect+ had been working through plans for the run up to Christmas for a number of months, covering an extensive cross section of great retailers. We’d been able to model forecasts and spot warning signs that may have been at variance to what we would have expected.

We shared this trend information with retail partners to help smooth volume, plan marketing activity and ensure that the start of the season on Black Friday was painless for clients – and, even more importantly, for their customers.

Planning for peak

As expected, our volumes doubled in the cyber week, but the planning and closeness to our partners meant that even when there was a little wobble in forecasting we could respond quickly in a positive way and help where it was necessary.

Being able to click-and-collect items to my local store was enormously convenient, as it brought the entire online high street within easy reach of home. I had the bulk of my Christmas shopping delivered this way, and one or two presents delivered to my home when I knew I was going to be in (and alone, to avoid any Christmas gift spoilers) and then returned the items that were not quite right.

When I needed to send items back, my options ranged from paying for the return and arranging the shipping myself, to a prepaid label and very clear instructions on how and where to take my return items. The latter gave me a much more favourable impression of the brand for thinking about my needs, even after the purchase.

I focused my efforts on retailers that sought to improve my experience when I wasn’t completely satisfied.

“It really makes a difference how you treat a customer when things don’t go to plan or when an item needs to be returned”

Paul Scratchley, Collect+

It really makes a difference how you treat a customer when things don’t go to plan or when an item needs to be returned.

But what most impressed me was getting a notification through an app on my phone, telling me that I had been credited with the refund for a returned item.

I’d only just handed the parcel to the collection point and the shopkeeper had scanned it.

The parcel couldn’t have made it back to the retailer but this company wanted to make sure that I had my money returned as soon as possible, so that I was primed to spend again – what a great experience.

If you’re wondering what your brand can do to enhance customer loyalty and continue to offer an amazing shopping experience in 2016, even after the delivery has taken place, try out our online shopping experience with a variety of retailers and ask yourself, ‘how can I delight my customers at Christmas and enthuse them to return to me in the following year?’

Drop me a line at to find out more about how Collect+ can help your brand.


Paul Scratchley is commercial director at Collect+ 

Paul scratchley commercial director collet plus web