Pre-Purchase Experience Review of Australian Women’s Fashion Retailers

published by on 13th June 2016 under Conversion (CRO), Industry Reports

Pre-purchase experience title womens fashion

 

In our previous posts, we have discussed how to optimise the checkout customer experience and post-purchase experience in the women’s fashion industry exploring ten top Australian retail brands. Today, we’ll be diving into the pre-purchase experience highlighting the shipping and returns features offered by these top Australian women’s fashion retail brands.
 

A study on the new connected customer conducted by the E-tailing group revealed that the top 2 critical website promotional features that customers look for when making an online purchase are: unconditional free shipping and free returns. It is not a secret that these two features not only weigh heavily on customers’ decision to purchase from you, but also impacts customer satisfaction. Ecommerce is all about convenience and price; painful returns process and high shipping costs simply contradict both of these features.

While offering free or discounted shipping and free returns is debatable, there is more to online shopping and customer experience. Many customers would be happy to pay a nominal fee to receive the product faster if given the option. It’s all about the three Cs- Choices, Convenience and Communication.

 

Summary of Review Findings

Click on the image below to see a larger view:

Summary table for pre-purchase women's fashion_final

 

Let’s take a closer look at how these ten Australian women’s fashion retailers are encouraging online purchases and gaining competitive advantage through pre-purchase customer experience.

 

 

1. Just Jeans

www.justjeans.com.au

Just Jeans

Just Jeans was founded in 1970 by the Kimberly family. They pride themselves with having over forty years’ experience in denim and carry other leading jeans brands alongside their own brand. With an extensive online store and over 246 stores around Australia and New Zealand, Just Jeans has become a retail destination for customers with diversified styles and preferences when it comes to denim.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: No

Website load time (seconds): 5.19

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist Just Jeans
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) No (free delivery only for orders placed in Australia stores)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refund and exchange
How many days to return the product? 21 days
What is the cost to return the product? Postage cost; Free (only if goods were faulty or not as ordered); Sales items not explicitly excluded
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? For orders placed in store, they offer free delivery of non-clearance items to the customer’s address

 

Shipping Policy: Just Jeans do not offer free shipping for online purchases. They only deliver on business days and require a signature upon delivery. They offer express delivery for orders located in Australia CBD, metro and major regional areas and international shipping. For orders placed in store for delivery to the customer’s address, they offer free delivery but would charge for clearance items.

Returns Policy: Just Jeans offer a returns policy with some direct requirements. Faulty or not as ordered goods are replaced free of charge. If goods remain in original condition they can be returned within 21 days for a refund or exchange. They return or exchange items in any of their retail stores. Customers can also post the goods to their Online Store Returns/Exchange address. Just Jeans customers in New Zealand are unable to purchase in store for delivery to their preferred address, or return or exchange items purchased in Just Jeans New Zealand retail stores.

 

 

2. Portmans

www.portmans.com.au

Portmans

Established in Melbourne in the 1940s, Portmans is one of the popular Australian brands for women’s fashion. It has over 110 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand and is known for sharp tailored clothing and luxe knits. Its relaunched website gives customers exclusive access to the latest fashion news, top trends, style guides and sneak peeks behind the scenes.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: No

Website load time (seconds): 5.55

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist Portmans
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) No (free delivery only for orders placed in Australia stores)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refund and exchange
How many days to return the product? 30 days
What is the cost to return the product? Postage cost; Free (only if goods were faulty or not as ordered); Sales items not explicitly excluded
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? They offer Click & Collect service; For orders placed in store, they offer free delivery of non-clearance items to the customer’s address.

 

Shipping Policy: Portmans offer Click & Collect service for customers and is available on select Victorian stores. They only deliver on business days and require a signature upon delivery. They offer express delivery for orders located in Australia CBD, metro and major regional areas and international shipping. For orders placed in store for delivery to the customer’s address, they offer free delivery but would charge for clearance items.

Returns Policy: Portmans offers free of charge replacement for faulty or not as ordered goods. If goods remain in original condition they can be returned within 30 days for a refund or exchange. They return or exchange items in any of their retail stores. Customers can also post the goods to Portman’s Online Store Returns/Exchange address.

 

 

3. Witchery

www.witchery.com.au

Witchery

Witchery is an Australian retail chain store offering women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, shoes and accessories. Based in Victoria, Australia, Witchery has stores in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore. In 2012, it became part of the larger Country Road Group with the head office based in Melbourne. Witchery aims to be a leader in sustainability and guided by sustainable and ethical practices in the way they operate.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: No

Website load time (seconds): 6.14

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist Witchery
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) Yes (for members with orders over $200 and all orders for Silver members)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refund and exchange
How many days to return the product? 14 days
What is the cost to return the product? Postage cost; Free (only if goods were faulty or incorrectly described); Sale items included
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? They offer Click & Collect service; They offer a full refund for reduced merchandise that is unworn and in its original condition.

 

Shipping Policy: They offer Click & Collect service and delivery for in-store purchases straight to your doorstep but only for Australia and New Zealand. They offer free shipping for members with orders over $200 and on all orders regardless of amount for Silver members. A signature is required for all deliveries. If the indicated address is unattended at the time of delivery the order will be transferred to the nearest post office for collection within 7 business days before returning to sender.

Returns Policy: For online and in-store purchases, Witchery offers full refund on all full price and reduced merchandise that is unworn and in its original condition. They indicate in their policy that Witchery online cannot process returns or exchanges for items that have been purchased in-store. Witchery also refunds all associated return packaging and postage costs for faulty, damaged or incorrectly described items. They indicate that the returns process takes 10 business days from the day the item is delivered to their distribution centre.

 

 

4. Jeanswest

www.jeanswest.com.au

Jeanswest

Owned and operated by Glorious Sun Group, Jeanswest is a global lifestyle fashion brand with stores in Australia, New Zealand, China, the Middle East, Fiji, Russia, Nepal, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Jeanswest has a strong focus on ethical sourcing and production initiating a standard code of conduct with their manufacturing partners.

Customer service is a number one priority for the team and is part of their friendly professional culture. They pride on having team members who are trained to deliver award winning service and advice.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: No

Website load time (seconds): 5.54

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist Jeanswest
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) Yes (for orders over $75 within Australia and New Zealand)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refund and exchange
How many days to return the product? 30 days
What is the cost to return the product? Postage cost; Free (only if goods were faulty or not as ordered); Free for jeans; Unable to exchange clearance items but offer refunds and return to warehouse for these items
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? Free returns on jeans (within Australia and New Zealand)

 

Shipping Policy: They offer free Collect in-store for Australia and New Zealand only. They charge flat rates for standard, express and international deliveries.

Returns Policy: Jeanswest allows customers to return items and exchange select items as long as they’re in the original condition when purchased. They do not process exchanges on items labelled “HK Clearance” and found in the clearance section of their website. However, they offer refunds in-store or back to their warehouse for these items.

For denims delivered within Australia and New Zealand, they offer free returns and will even cover the delivery costs. Customers are encouraged to visit one of the retails stores for faster returns and refunds.

 

 

5. Birdsnest

www.birdsnest.com.au

Birdsnest

Birdsnest is an online clothing store in Australia and has one retail store located in Cooma, NSW. They offer a wide range of fashion labels, styling and advice for the intelligent, resourceful and fashion conscious women.

To provide their customers with an easy and enjoyable online shopping experience, Birdsnest offers unique shopping options such as the ability to shop by colour, by occasion or by body shape.

Because of their commitment and positive culture that inspires confidence in their team and customers, they won the Best Online Customer Service Award at the 2015 Online Retailing Industry Award.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: Yes

Website load time (seconds): 4.39

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist Birdsnest
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) Yes (for orders over $200 within Australia)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refund, exchange and credit
How many days to return the product? 365 days
What is the cost to return the product? $7.95 pre-paid return option (for Australian orders); Free (only if goods were faulty); Sale items included
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? “No Hassle” 365 day return policy which includes a $7.95 flat rate, pre-paid option, a 365 day return window and an easy Online Returns Process; For exchanges, they will hold items for one week.

 

Shipping Policy: Birdsnest aims to provide the fastest possible delivery. They use Australia Post Express Service and aim to send the items the next day if orders were made before 1pm EST or within 2 working days.

They charge a flat rate for orders below $200 and for deliveries outside Australia. Stock availability information on their website is updated multiple times a day. Customers are notified within 1 working day if the items will not be delivered. For items Birdsnest cannot re-order, a refund is given immediately and for items they can re-order, the choice between a refund or waiting for the delivery is given to customers.

Returns Policy: Birdsnest is devoted to helping customers find the best items which is why they provide a 365 day return window for a full refund or exchange including sale items. The refund amount for the item/s does not include the postage charges.

They provide an easy Online Return process by including a link in the order confirmation email to the ‘My Orders/Return Items’ page on their website.

For faulty products, customers can contact their customer service department. They will send out a post bag to return the item or refund the postage when the parcel arrives.

Birdsnest is committed to making sure that the items purchased are perfect for their customers. They “love” returns and ensure a quick returns process to ensure customers are 100% happy.

 

 

6. Sportscraft

www.sportscraft.com.au

Sportscraft

Founded in 1914, Sportscraft is an Australian women’s and men’s clothing brand offering a wide range of clothing and accessories that show authentic Australian style. The products are sold through department stores and over 20 of its own branded outlets.

Sportscraft operates and complies with the requirements of the code of conduct that defines the standards for ethical and responsible behaviour.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: No

Website load time (seconds): 3.08

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist Sportscraft
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) Yes (for orders over $200 within Australia)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refund only
How many days to return the product? 21 days
What is the cost to return the product? Postage cost; No refunds and exchanges for outlet items unless faulty
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? Customers can return sale items

 

Shipping Policy: For orders within Australia and non-rural areas, Sportscraft aims to deliver the items between 3-7 business days. If items have not been delivered during this period, an investigation may be required and can take up to 7 business days for a resolution. For items confirmed by the courier to be ‘lost’, a full refund is provided.

Sportscraft offers a flat rate for orders below $200 and for deliveries outside of Australia. They require a signature when items are delivered.

Returns Policy: Sportscraft offers 3 options for returns – same day courier pickup, in store and Australia Post. Refunds take up to 14 business days.

They do not offer online exchanges but indicate in their website that customers can take the item to any store and ask for assistance from the store’s staff.

 

 

7. Saba

www.saba.com.au

Saba

Founded by Joe Saba in 1965, Saba is an Australian fashion retailer for women and men. Their brand is defined by superior tailoring and modern simplicity. They offer the latest trends and contemporary collections each season alongside elevated essentials. Each season, Saba sources out textiles and fabrications from across the globe, partnering with premium mills and manufacturers.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: No

Website load time (seconds): 6.13

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist Saba
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) Yes (for orders over $200 within Australia)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refund only
How many days to return the product? 21 days
What is the cost to return the product? Postage cost; No refunds and exchanges for outlet items unless faulty
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? Customers can return sale items

 

Shipping Policy: For orders within Australia and non-rural areas, Saba aims to deliver the items between 3-5 business days. If items have not been delivered during this period, an investigation may be required and can take up to 5 business days for a resolution. For items confirmed by the courier to be ‘lost’, a full refund is provided.

Saba offers a flat rate for orders below $200 and for deliveries outside of Australia. They require a signature when items are delivered.

Returns Policy: Saba also offers 3 options for returns – same day courier pickup, in store and Australia Post. Refunds take up to 14 business days.

They do not offer online exchanges but indicate in their website that customers can take the item to any store and ask for assistance from the store’s staff.

 

 

8. Sussan

www.sussan.com.au

Sussan

Sussan is an Australian women’s fashion retailer, offering fashionable collectoins that allow customers to find their own personal style. They have been in business since 1939 and their design team consists of women ranging from early 20s to late 40s who combine their fashion expertise to bring their customers pieces that suit their lifestyles. They ensure beautifully designed, functional and quality items in their collections.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: Yes

Website load time (seconds): 2.13

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist Sussan
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) Yes (including Click & Collect service)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refund, exchange and credit
How many days to return the product? 14 days
What is the cost to return the product? Postage cost; Sale items can only be exchanged, not refunded
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? Free returns (Australia only)

 

Shipping Policy: Sussan delivers items approximately 3-5 business days (within Australia and for Click & Collect orders) or up to 5-7 business days (international orders). They use Australia Post for deliveries and delivers to most countries worldwide.

A signature is required for the delivery or the order is forwarded to a local post office for collection. Alternatively, customers can leave delivery instructions at checkout if they wish their orders to be left unattended.

Returns Policy: Sussan refunds customers for faulty, not of ‘merchantable quality’, and not fit for its purpose items. Sussan has a ‘Change of Mind Policy’ that offers a refund, exchange or gift card equivalent to the purchase price for most items provided the conditions indicated on their policy are met.

They do not accept online exchanges but customers can take their items to any store for an exchange (within Australia). For international orders, exchanges are processed by returning the items for a refund and placing a new order.

 

 

9. Sportsgirl

www.sportsgirl.com.au

Sportsgirl

Founded in 1948, Sportsgirl is an Australian women’s clothing chain owned by the Sussan Retail Group. It appeals to the younger and more trend-conscious girls compared to the more conservative ones targeted by its sister label Sportscraft. They have 120 stores in Australia including an online store and are industry leaders when it comes to digital trends.

They offer customers access to up-to-the-minute global trends, exclusive designer collaborations and latest beauty and accessory collections. Customers can drop by on of their stores for a styling session with their pro stylists. Sportsgirl also promotes a positive body image among girls and is a long-standing partner of the Butterfly Foundation.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: Yes

Website load time (seconds): 2.26

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist Sportsgirl
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) Yes (Australia & New Zealand orders over $50; International orders over $80)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refund, exchange and credit
How many days to return the product? 14 days
What is the cost to return the product? Postage cost; Sale items can only be exchanged, not refunded
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? Free in-store returns

 

Shipping Policy: Shipping within Australia takes approximately 3-5 working days and international orders take approximately 10 working days. Customers are advised to contact the shipping company (Australia Post Express) for orders that have not arrived within the allotted time.

A signature is required for the delivery otherwise the order is forwarded to a local post office for collection. Alternatively, customers can leave delivery instructions at checkout.

Returns Policy: They provide refunds and exchanges if customers change their minds about the purchase as long as the item/s is in the original condition, with the original receipt and within 14 days from the purchase date. Sale items can only be exchanged for another size or colour and cannot be refunded.

They do not accept online exchanges but customers can take their items to any store for an exchange (within Australia). For international orders, exchanges are processed by returning the items for a refund and placing a new order.

 

 

10. General Pants Co.

www.generalpants.com.au

General Pants Co

General Pants Co. is an Australian fashion retail brand that specialises in streetwear, denim, skate clothing and surfwear. It was founded in 1972 in Australia and now has 47 stores. They sell both local and international brands.

They are active in social media and engage with their customers across all its social channels.

Mobile/ tablet responsive: Yes

Website load time (seconds): 19.56

 

Ecommerce Shipping & Returns Policy Checklist General Pants Co.
Shipping Policy
Do they clearly display the shipping policy (i.e. header or footer) ? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer free shipping? (Y/N) Yes (for orders over $75 within Australia)
Do they list the supported shipping options? (Y/N) Yes
Do they indicate the expected delivery time frames for each option? (Y/N) Yes
Are all applicable shipping and handling fees clearly shown? (Y/N) Yes
Do they keep customers up-to-date on the delivery progress through email? (Y/N) Yes
Returns Policy
Do they clearly display the returns policy (i.e. header or footer)? (Y/N) Yes
Do they offer refund, exchange or credit only? Refunds and exchange
How many days to return the product? 10 days (domestic); 40 days (international)
What is the cost to return the product? Postage cost; Free (only if goods were faulty or incorrectly described); Sale items included
Are there value adds (i.e. additional credit, free collect + returns service, no questions asked exchange policy)? None

 

Shipping Policy: Domestic deliveries are handled by Australia Post Express with a flat rate for orders less than $75. Delivery times are up to 3-5 business days but orders placed before 2 pm on a business day is dispatched on the same day. All deliveries require the customer’s signature.

For international deliveries, shipping costs depends on the zone and are handled by DHL’s Global Express Shipping service.

Returns Policy: Returns are accepted provided the items are in their original condition and refunds are processed within 24-48 hours of receipt. The accept exchanges but for sizes only and where the stock is available at the online store. Customers can also exchange their online orders at any retail store.

When returns require a product assessment by the supplier of the goods, the process can take 2-6 weeks.

 

The 3 Cs – Choices, Convenience and Communication

With more customers shopping online and getting exposed to different purchase experiences, their expectations and demands from online retailers continue to grow and become more complex. Today’s “connected customers” want more choices when it comes to shopping online, more control over how and when their purchases will be delivered, more convenient returns process and better communication of the information they need to make a purchase decision.

What these online retailers need is a customer-driven marketing strategy that optimises and streamlines the shopping experience at every stage of the purchase cycle. If you can’t grab the customer’s attention (pre-purchase), there will be no point in designing an engaging online shopping experience (purchase). Similarly, if you don’t successfully keep your customers engaged and happy during the buying and checking out process, after-sales marketing efforts will be futile (post-purchase). If you don’t create a positive and memorable post purchase experience then you can say goodbye to repeat purchases. It’s a cycle really.

If you want to get insights and ideas that you can start implementing and testing on your site, check out the resources below featuring ten Australian women’s fashion retail brands:

Purchase: Women’s Fashion Online Checkout Usability Report- A Review of 10 Australian Retailers

Post-Purchase: How 10 Big Names in Australian Women’s Fashion Do Post-Purchase