Perhaps the only positive aspect of the economically destructive lockdown is the boost it has given online shopping, something most consumers had avoided.

Woolworths admitted in its trading update published last Friday that it was still trying to increase online store capacity as online food shopping almost doubled, growing 87.2%, in the second half of its financial year.

Facing unprecedented demand, Woolworths has done a lot to improve its platform saying that it “recognises that [the platform] is not yet at optimal level”.

One area in which Woolworths is even further behind is its online clothes shopping experience. The returns process is particularly important for online shopping as, obviously, a customer cannot try on clothing in advance.

Suberbalist and Runway Sale, both local online clothing retailers, allow customers to return purchases via courier, the same way they had them delivered.

TFG, owner of Foschini and The Fix, has the biggest online market share of the traditional brick-and-mortar apparel retailers. It has free collections for customers who need to return clothes.

But Woolworths requires shoppers who have chosen to buy clothes online to go to the store to return them. This defeats the purpose of buying apparel online.

For now demand remains sky high for food delivery. But if Woolworths wants to keep up with competitors, it needs to fix its clothing returns process, which is at least five years out of fashion.

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