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Shopping online has its perks. Avoiding the Saturday crowds, convenience, and more choice in terms of availability, just to name a few. However, sometimes people are put-off because when it comes to returns, they think it would be easier to take an item back to the shop, rather than going through what they imagine is a complicated process. In the past, they were probably right. However, retailers are bringing their returns practices in line with modern buying habits, with home courier collection for unwanted items, as well as convenient Click & Collect options….and we wouldn’t be doing our job properly if we didn’t put a couple to the test.

Bershka

 

First up is online fashion retailer Bershka. Part of the same Spanish retail group that owns Zara, Bershka have established themselves in the youth market – appealing to a similar demographic to H&M. However, do they pull their weight when it comes to returns? Let’s find out.

 

What did you buy?

I ordered a coat in two different colours and a bag. It was my first time buying something from Bershka.

 

Did they offer a choice of delivery?

Yes – I went for the standard 3-5 working days option, which was free because I spent over £40. They do offer an express option (1-2 working days) for £9.95 but I decided not to take it. 

 

How long did delivery take?

4 days

 

Was there a delivery option you would have liked that wasn’t available?

No, I was happy with the choices that were available.

 

Were you kept informed of progress?

Very much so. I was kept updated in regards to the status of my order and where along the process I was in terms of delivery.

 

Did they make it easy to return an item?

I purchased with the intention of returning one of the items. I checked the returns policy first and it was a major factor in me buying from them. However, I did have some difficulty finding where you click to organise a return.

 

How was the process?

When I did figure out where to click, I was sent a link to follow to organise my return – it worked very well, I could choose different methods and a date that suited me.

However, I wanted to return one coat and swap the other because it had a hole in it. But I couldn’t see anywhere to request an exchange.

I booked the return because I knew that one item was definitely going back anyway and emailed them to ask how to get a replacement item. After a couple of days wait, I sent another email and got two responses, one saying no problem just return it (but not answering whether I had to re-order the replacement) and one saying I had to send a photograph of the hole in the item. So I was rather confused!

In the end I decided to just re-order the coat and see what happened. I wrote a note on the return saying it was damaged but don’t worry about sending a replacement as I’d already reordered it.

Just after the courier came to take the return (all went very smoothly) I had a phone call saying they were sorry but my size was out of stock so they’d refund the item rather than sending a replacement. I explained I didn’t know what was happening so had already reordered it anyway.

They said on my next order I would be upgraded to free next day delivery.

 

Overall, what did they do well?

Their free returns policy is definitely one of the things they do well, and was a major factor in me choosing to order from them. Especially the different options available, which made it convenient for me. Finally, offering me free next day delivery on my next order was a nice touch!

 

Overall, what did they not do well?

As I said, I did have a bit of trouble working out where to click to get what I wanted, as well as some rather confusing communication. However, when I eventually got the phone call the customer service agent was so helpful and friendly that I came away really happy. I guess that’s the difference a human touch makes.

  

Rating out of 5: 3.5/5

Delivery cost: Free

Return cost: Free

 

Wiggle logo

 

Next in line was online sports and outdoors retailer Wiggle. Founded in 1999 right here in the UK, Wiggle are a firm favourite with cycle enthusiasts and their delivery options are pretty highly thought of. But, just how much of a firm favourite will they be once we’ve put them to the test? Let’s see.

 

What did you buy?

A wetsuit for my husband from Wiggle.

 

Did they offer a choice of delivery?

Yes, it was a present and as usual, I’d left it a bit late.  I also didn’t want it delivered to home as he would clock the packaging and guess what his present was.  So I arranged to collect the parcel from a petrol station just around the corner from home the day before I needed it.

There was an excellent choice of delivery options – free to home if I could wait 4 days, next day for £4.99 and both Collect + and Doddle pick up options from £1.99.

 

How long did delivery take?

2 days from ordering, which was late at night.

 

Was there a delivery option you would have liked that wasn’t available?

No, there were more expensive options if I’d needed it in even more of a hurry and cheaper options for sending it to home.  The fact that I could choose a click and collect option for this particular present was great.

 

Were you kept informed of progress?

Yes, at every step of the way. As well as order confirmation emails, I got texts telling me that my order would be delivered by DPD with the offer to change the collection point if I wasn’t going to be around and then telling me in what hour’s time frame delivery would be made, with the driver’s name.

 

Phone screenshot

 

Did they make it easy to return an item?

Yes, it turned out to be too small so I needed to order a larger size. A gripe about Wiggle’s site is that I wasn’t able to return the wetsuit and ask for a replacement in the same transaction.  I was forced to return the unwanted item, get a refund and then re-order the larger size…which turned out to be out of stock.  This could have been made more seamless for me as a customer, including the option to reserve the larger size when it came back into stock because as it turned out, I went elsewhere to order a different suit which was a lost sale for Wiggle. But the return process was very simple.

 

How was the process?

I liked the fact that there was as good a selection of return options as there were for – I could choose to drop it back at the same petrol station or have it collected from home or work. The returns label was on my despatch note so I didn’t have to print it myself, and the packaging was re-useable making the process of packing it back up simple. And importantly, it was free. I wouldn’t have ordered in the first place if it wasn’t.

 

Overall, what did they do well?

This was all done on mobile and the UX was excellent. The range of convenient delivery and returns options was really customer friendly and I felt the tracking communications were particularly good.

 

Overall, what did they not do well?

Didn’t think about my return as a sales opportunity for a replacement or substitution. Their loss as well as mine.

 

Rating out of 5:4.5/5

Delivery cost: £1.99

Return cost:Free

 

One decent experience, and one very good experience from our mystery shoppers. Reading their thoughts, it just goes to show how important having a good returns process is for online retailers. Making it simple and convenient for the customer really can make or break how the shopper remembers their experience.

If you’re keen to see how our other mystery shopping adventures went, you might want to check out our experiences with luxury and fashion retailers.

 

Photo credit: Dressformer via Wikimedia Commons

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