OPERATIONS

Study: Online retailers don’t meet expectations for returns

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — In a study of the returns and refunds performance of the 25 largest online retailers, StellaService found that the majority of retailers evaluated aren’t meeting consumer expectations.

StellaService analysts ordered the same product from each retailer to be delivered to the three separate regions of East, West and Midwest. They then returned the product, tracking metrics such as the presence of a prepaid, adhesive return label, total time to receive a return authorization and refund speed. The average refund speed of was 10.7 days.

In a survey on consumer expectations during the holidays, StellaService found that 69% of consumers expect to receive a refund in less than 10 days. Only 36% of the top 25 met those expectations for returns requested by StellaService analysts during the study period.

The two fastest refund speeds came from the same companies who topped a similar study in November 2012, Shopping.HP.com and Amazon.com, respectively. Shopping.HP.com was fastest with an average of about two days, followed by Amazon.com at four days. The average refund speed of the bottom five performers was more than 17 days. That’s about four days slower than the bottom five performers from the November 2012 study.

The five fastest retailers, who all processed refunds in less than seven days, were: Shopping.HP.com, Amazon.com, Costco.com, Store.Apple.com and Macys.com.

StellaService analysis found the key to Shopping.HP.com’s swift refund process is that once the returns were scanned by the carrier, the retailer initiated the refund immediately. What slowed most retailers was a long processing time once the product hit the warehouse. In one case, an order sat in the warehouse for 15 days before a refund was issued.

Only three retailers included prepaid labels in all packages: HSN.com, Nordstrom.com and VictoriasSecret.com. Also of interest, Store.Apple.com was the only retailer to use express shipping for returns.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Abercrombie & Fitch launches omni-channel spring campaign

BY Dan Berthiaume

New Albany, Ohio – Abercrombie & Fitch is launching a spring 2014 marketing campaign that includes omni-channel features such as live Twitter Q&A sessions with celebrities. The campaign, “The Making of a Star,” spotlights a select group of rising actors and musicians.

The cast includes Christa B. Allen (ABC’s "Revenge"), Diego Boneta ("Rock of Ages," "The Dead Men," "Another You," "Pele and Eden"), Kylie Bunbury (ABC Family’s "Twisted"), Colton Haynes (CW’s "Arrow"), Jazzlyn Marae (Nickelodeon’s "Fred: The Movie," ABC Family’s" Nine Lives of Chloe King"), Steven R. McQueen (CW’s "The Vampire Diaries "and upcoming Steve McQueen Documentary"), and Debby Ryan (Actress/Musician). Photographs and videos of each star, shot by photographer Bruce Weber, will be featured online, in the A&F app, and in A&F stores around the world.

Abercrombie & Fitch will host live Twitter Q&A sessions with Diego Boneta, Steven R. McQueen, and Debby Ryan throughout the season. Consumers can follow @abercrombie on Twitter and Instagram to be part of "The Making of a Star" campaign.

"A&F’s new Stars on the Rise are exceptional, multi-dimensional, and optimistic," said Craig Brommers, senior VP of marketing for Abercrombie & Fitch. "We’re excited to add a new cast to our long list of successful talent."

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OPERATIONS

Abercrombie & Fitch promotes CFO Ramsden to COO

BY Dan Berthiaume

New Albany, Ohio — Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has promoted Jonathan E. Ramsden, currently the company’s executive VP and CFO, to the position of COO, a new role at the company. Ramsden will continue to serve as CFO, in addition to his COO role, until a new CFO is appointed.

Ramsden, 49, has been with Abercrombie & Fitch since December 2008. He previously served as CFO of TBWA Worldwide, a global advertising and marketing services company. Ramsden will work closely with CEO Michael S. Jeffries, as well as the new brand presidents, who will report to Jeffries and oversee the Abercrombie & Fitch and Abercrombie Kids brands, and the Hollister brand, respectively. The company is making progress in its search for brand presidents and will provide additional information when appropriate.

"Jonathan’s responsibilities have progressively expanded well beyond the CFO role, and this new position will enable Jonathan to work closely with me in managing the overall execution of our long-range strategic plans,” said Jeffries. “Along with the new brand president positions, the creation of the new COO role will ensure we are organized for renewed growth and success going forward."

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