Failed Black Friday deliveries cost UK retailers £203m in returns

While Brits are expected to spend £3bn on Black Friday, new data warns that this ‘sales’ day could, in fact, cost UK retailers £203m in returns caused by failed deliveries.

Data, which mapped the buying behaviours of over 2,000 UK shoppers, predicts that Black Friday alone will see £1.01bn worth of online deliveries fail – either arriving too late or after the allocated delivery slot promised by the retailer.  This, Sorted estimates, will result in £203m of products being returned to retailers.

Black Friday returns present a critical issue for retailers as items that are sent back become stuck in a ‘returns loop’ as they are processed back into a retailer’s system.  This means products become unavailable to buy just at the moment a retailer wants to sell in the Christmas trading period.  Often, they come back on the shelf in January – already a period of further discounting – and then can’t be sold at full price, reducing retailers already squeezed margins.

David Grimes, founder and CEO at Sorted, commented: “Consumers already expect immediacy of delivery at every stage of their buying journey – indeed, our recent research showed two fifths of UK shoppers won’t wait more than 24 hours for a delivery, suggesting that even ‘next day’ fulfilment options no longer adds value to online shoppers.”

“And, with the frenzied buying behaviours associated with flash promotions, such as Black Friday, this just compounds the sense of urgency around speed of delivery.  Consumers already want ultra-fast fulfilment and this is just exacerbated on Black Friday – with failed Black Friday deliveries which don’t meet shoppers’ expectations around speed costing UK retailers £203m in returns”

“In addition to offering additional delivery options to meet these demands, retailers need to be confident they can deliver on these promises to uphold the delivery experience.  Practically, retailers should consider third party logistics partners who are geared to perform at speed in a specific geographic area, as well as carriers who specialise at delivering specific types of items, generally depending on their size and weight, are more likely to be meet deadlines and operate more cost effectively,” he concluded.