Metapack UAG – October 2018

October 2018 – Returns

Location: London and Birmingham
Date: 29th and 30th October 2018
Chair: Robyn Todd, Senior Product Manager


  • 08:30 – 09:30 – Coffee and Reception
  • 09:30 – 09:45 – Opening Remarks
  • 09:45 – 10:30 – Hot Topics Discussion
  • 11:00 – 11:15 – Coffee Break
  • 11:15 – 12:00 – Outcomes
  • 12:00 – 12:45 – Value Mapping
  • 12:45 – 13:00 – Close
  • 13:00 – 14:00 – Lunch

Meeting Notes

Opening Remarks

  • A brief overview of Metapack’s roadmap and progress was presented
  • A brief overview of the acquisition of was presented

Hot Topics

Volume of Online Returns

  • 50% of attendees specialise in groceries and motoring goods and have 1-5% online returns. The rest are in-store.
  • Remaining 50% specialise in fashion and have 100% online returns


  • 100% see warranties as the catch-all for items after the return cut-off date
    • 50% often see no-fault items being returned just before warranty runs out
    • 50% have a 2-year guarantee on clothing
    • 25% have life-time guarantees
  • 50% have individual returns policies with their vendors, but don’t have signed agreements
  • 50% have standard 28-day return policies. The other 50% are trying to shorten to 14 days due to seasonality and margin shrinking
  • 25% have seen an average of 60% returns in Germany due to German policy and a Fintech company (Klarna)
    • German customers must only pay after 30 days
    • Klarna offers Try-Before-You-Buy based on your credit rating

Return Labels

  • 50% don’t include a label
  • 50 % only provide free return shipping if the product is faulty
  • 25% include one label and it can be returned either via carrier or store
  • 25% incl. two carrier labels in every delivery (in 5 countries). They also offer additional labels online
  • 25% offer QR codes
  • 25% never investigate store return items – everything is done on trust


100% mistrust lockers due to concerns around:

  • Lack of trust in time slots
  • Responsibility and accountability
  • Cost and logistics questions:
    • Do colleagues take items to the post office from the store?
    • Do items have to wait in store until it gets picked up?


  • 50% cannot do analysis to combat fraud and have noticed people with Trade discounts reselling online
  • 50% cannot link returns to return visits
  • 25% are experiencing data complications due to refurbs causing duplicate product data for the same product
  • 25% combat fraud by tracking customers through store cards by reviewing past behaviour
  • 25% use in-store email collection as a method is to link inbound/outbound deliveries (where 60-70% provide and email)
  • 25% have no/partial carrier tracking – returns are a surprise when they reach the DC 25% don’t communicate returns progress to their customers – results in around 20% of customer service calls

Online Portals

  • 100% of attendees agree a third party returns portal needs to be branded
  • 25% are building their own portals rather than relying on a carrier, to ensure a consistent experience
  • 25% have concerns regarding handling CS calls with 3rd party branding on portals

Refurb and Resell

  • 75% don’t de-brand
  • 50% state they want to avoid landfill waste at all costs to reduce their impact on the environment
  • 25% are de-branding delivery vehicles to avoid CO2 image concerns and so they don’t have to differentiate between brands
  • 25% advised they refurb and resell with exceptions (e.g. some vendors don’t want second-hand product distorting their pricing)
  • 25% state 100% of returns go to jobbers (even brand new unopened items)
  • 25% don’t re-box


  • 50% consolidate and grade all returns in one warehouse
  • 25% find it cheaper to consolidate all returns in one warehouse and then send back to head office to grade
  • 25% don’ consolidate at all and just send to jobbers


  • 75% have lower NPS scores due to a slow process for refunds
  • 50% refund in most cases
  • 25% have an NPS score is below their overall average
  • 25% experience slow refunds due to RMA’s from vendors being required before refunds
  • 25% experience delays are due to carriers and 3rd party returns portals

Outcomes and Value Mapping

  • 100% agree consistent portal branding helps avoid customer confusion
  • 100% agree policy should kick in from delivery, not order creation from website
  • 100% agree primary concern is customer experience
  • 100% agree customers need to be able to collect from a specified location at a specified time
  • 75% agree auto replacement is a better customer experience
  • 75% believe the key to a smooth returns process is system integration
  • 50% agree free returns can be used and incentive for store credits
  • 50% agree instant in-store refunds should be offered
  • 50% agree vendor policies should be aligned with theirs, as misaligned return windows result in non-refunds and a poor customer experience
  • 50% agreed to automate refunds (depends on whether inbound/outbound are linked) and label generation should be done by the carrier
  • 50% agreed scrapping everything under £50 would be more cost effective than sending back to vendors
  • 50% agreed that a QR code which contains both order and returns data should be used (with the caveat that challenges around which carriers to preselect needs to be addressed)
  • 25% agree addressing warehouse capacity issues would improve the process