Jul 29, 2021
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Very Group moves all fashion returns to tech-heavy hub

Jul 29, 2021

After news this week of Marks & Spencer and JD Sports Fashion improving their digital and logistics focus, Very Group is also highlighting its own credentials.


The online fashion and general merchandise retailer said Thursday that it’s now fully migrated all clothing and footwear returns to Skygate, its highly-automated fulfilment centre in the East Midlands. 

It said the transfer "signifies considerable benefits for Very’s 4.5 million customers”, allowing for faster refunds while returned product will become available for resale within 30 minutes.

Very said it has processed more than 750,000 returned items at Skygate since the three month-long migration from Raven Mill in Chadderton, Greater Manchester, operated by Clipper Logistics, began in April. 

Non-fashion items, such as electrical appliances and tech products, which generally have low return rates and require specialist inspection, will continue to be processed in Greater Manchester.

It noted that this milestone is “well-timed for Very”, as the retailer gears up for the busy ‘Golden Quarter’ period in 2021, including Black Friday and Christmas. 

Very said Skygate’s highly automated sortation, selection, picking and packaging technology has orders ready for dispatch within 30 minutes of being placed by a customer, compared to around four hours at its previous fulfilment centres. The fastest order to date, processed during Black Friday 2020, was ready for dispatch in just 18 minutes. 

The 850,000 sq ft fulfilment centre, which launched on the day the first national lockdown began in March 2020, shipped 20 million items and 8.1 million orders in its first full year in operation. It also processed up to 256 orders per minute during the retailer’s busiest ever Christmas period in 2020. That should rise now that all fashion   returns are passing through its doors.

Phil Hackney, Very’s chief operating officer, said: “Across the retail industry, clothing and footwear return rates tend to be higher than for other categories, but also simpler to process. Bringing them under the same roof as our fulfilment operation at Skygate, where they can benefit from our market-leading automated technology, makes perfect sense for our customers and our business”. 

He added: “Faster refunds and making returned product available for re-sale more quickly will create an even better customer experience and support our continued growth as we head into the crucial Black Friday and Christmas periods.”

Operational speed and efficiency is becoming paramount to digital retailers with competition hotting up as the sector moves out post-pandemic recovery and into a busy autumn/winter trading period. 

Earlier this week, M&S announced it had geared up its delivery status to same-day for clothing, alongside the the roll out a “new and improved” digital click & collect model and also accelerate its customer returns process. And JD Sports Fashion also announced this week the opening a major new distribution centre in the Midlands, ready for operation in time for the Christmas period.

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