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High street retail in London

10 Logistics Insights From Europe’s Top 500 Retailers

What does it take to be one of Europe’s Top 500 retailers when it comes to logistics and operations?—We partnered with RetailX to uncover the answers. 

Here are the 10 biggest insights from the full DeliveryX Europe Top500:

Consumers are not returning to pre-pandemic buying behavior 

Pressures on operations and logistics are not going away—fulfillment services, warehouses, supply chains, and more are still in flux.

Against this backdrop, consumers are continuing to shop online and their expectations for fast delivery and easy returns are higher than ever. 

Meeting customer expectations and managing logistics (and associated costs) requires a careful balancing act. 

(Pro Tip: Having clear visibility into your end-to-end supply chain will help you exceed the expectations of this post-pandemic shopper. You can read more about the value of first-to-last mile supply chain visibility here.) 

Consumers still prefer delivery over collection 

Most customers expect to wait 3-5 days for delivery, and the number of Top 500 retailers offering next day delivery has dropped by 8 percentage points since 2020. 

Environmental issues are top of mind for consumers 

Pressure is mounting on retailers to act sustainably across all areas of operations and logistics. Staff, technology and automation are important - as is visible innovation. 

Using lockers for delivery and returns is more eco-friendly

Lockers reduce CO2 emissions by as much as two-thirds in cities compared to door-to-door services. Returns consolidation, smart dispositioning and printerless returns are three ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your operations.

Traditional store based retailers have embraced click and collect

Click and collect is particularly popular in the UK, where Dunelm reports that a third of customers make an additional purchase in-store when collecting an item purchased online.

Expectations for ultra-fast delivery are likely to rise

Consumers used to receiving their groceries in under an hour will come to expect the same service from other retailers.

But, according to our own research, consumers see fast delivery as a premium service and are willing to pay for 2-day or same day delivery. Retailers won’t be expected to offer expedited shipping for free. Some retailers are leaning into these perks via VIP programs for their most valued and loyal customers. 

Making returns simple encourages sales

A frustrating returns process will put customers off permanently. 

The data from our 2021 Returns Report backs this up, and speaks for itself:

  • 96% of consumers say they’ll be more likely to shop again with a retailer based on a great returns experience
  • 39% won’t buy if they can’t find the returns policy

Fewer retailers are refunding original shipping costs

The percentage of retailers refunding original shipping costs has dropped by 47 percentage points - with just 40% of Top 500 retailers refunding the fee. 

Free returns are becoming even more common

56% of Top 500 retailers are now offering free returns, up from 38% in Feb 2020. Fashion retailers are most likely to be generous with their returns policies, with 75% offering them for free in March 2022.

In Narvar’s Returns Benchmarks Report (2021), we found that while all Fortune 50 retailers cover return shipping costs, only 45% of omnichannel retailers and 22% of D2C retailers do so.

More retailers are enabling omnichannel returns

 63% of the Top 500 retailers are now allowing in-store returns for online purchases. 

Want more detail? Read the full DeliveryX Europe Top500 2022 Report

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