UK fashion brands are embracing free delivery as a key strategy to win back customers following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent research conducted by Brightpearl, a digital operations platform for retail and wholesale, has revealed that 44% of UK fashion brands surveyed plan to introduce free delivery by 2021. Additionally, 34% of brands are considering offering free returns and 25% intend to launch Click & Collect services within the same timeframe.

The study, which involved interviewing 1,000 retailers, also highlighted a significant rise in the adoption of Click & Collect services, with 65% of retailers currently offering this option. This increase demonstrates the value retailers place on convenience in the final stages of the customer journey.

Derek O’Carroll, CEO of Brightpearl, emphasized that while absorbing the costs of delivery and returns may pose a risk to retailers, it could also prove to be an effective strategy in expanding their customer base, especially during a time when online shopping is paramount.

The research further indicated that 56% of UK retailers plan to shift their focus to online platforms within the next year, highlighting the enduring impact of the pandemic on brick-and-mortar stores. Additionally, 39% of retailers reported higher online sales compared to before the crisis.

Among the strategies adopted by retailers to attract online customers, free delivery emerged as the most popular option, with approximately one-third of all retail brands intending to implement it. Furthermore, 22% are considering offering free returns, while an additional 23% are exploring same- or next-day delivery options within the next six months.

However, the study warns retailers to ensure that any new services introduced meet customer expectations. The research revealed that 61% of consumers encountered issues when purchasing from online brands in the past year, particularly regarding delivery and returns. O’Carroll stressed the importance of retailers having the necessary infrastructure in place to deliver an optimal shopping experience throughout the entire customer journey.

The fashion industry’s shift towards prioritizing online operations and offering free delivery showcases the evolving consumer demands in the aftermath of the pandemic. Retailers must focus on providing seamless and convenient online experiences to regain and retain customers in the post-pandemic era.

Retail Dive