John Lewis has announced that it will give its customers the choice to return online purchases of clothes, shoes and fashion accessories for free via a network of over 5,000 local convenience stores, newsagents and petrol stations.
The returns option will be offered in partnership with CollectPlus, the largest store-based parcel service in the UK, making it easier and more convenient than ever before for customers to return items.
With over 5,000 stores in the CollectPlus network, all of which are open early until late, seven days a week, customers will be able to return items at a time and place that suits them, as well as accurately track their package every step of the way back to John Lewis.
From early autumn 2013, John Lewis will also trial a 'Click&Collect+' service from CollectPlus in Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of South-West England. This will give customers the ability to pick up their John Lewis online purchases from their local CollectPlus parcel store. The service will cost £3 and will typically take three days to fulfil.
The announcement follows a successful roll-out of John Lewis' 'click and collect' service, to 234 collection points within its department stores, 'at home' shops, and Waitrose branches.
Karen Dracou, head of omnichannel development at John Lewis, says:
'Orders using Click & Collect have nearly doubled over the past year, and accounted for an impressive 35 per cent of online sales over the Christmas period, so we know that customers are looking for ever-more convenient ways of shopping with us. By partnering with CollectPlus, we can extend our existing reach of John Lewis and Waitrose collection points to a wider geographical base, providing an even more convenient way for our customers to shop.'
Neil Ashworth, CEO of CollectPlus, says:
'We've designed the CollectPlus service to ensure that customers find collecting and returning items as easy and as painless as possible. The extended opening hours associated with all CollectPlus stores allow customers to drop off or return items outside of the traditional trading day. With this in mind, the CollectPlus service will fit perfectly around the busy lives of John Lewis customers, making it easy for customers to fit collecting and returning purchases into the rest of their day.
'We are delighted that John Lewis has chosen to partner with CollectPlus and are looking forward to working closely with them to make their customers' online shopping experience even more easy and convenient.'
A recent IMRG Home Delivery report indicates that almost three quarters (72 per cent) of online shoppers would not be willing to travel more than five miles to collect goods ordered online, demonstrating the value of the CollectPlus network as it brings retailers that much closer to their customers. With over 85 per cent of people in towns in the UK within a mile of a CollectPlus store, CollectPlus is answering this growing consumer need.