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Consumers Demand Free Returns

Posted on 4.07.2015

The majority of consumers expect free returns according to a new report from Royal Mail.

According to the Spring 2015 “Delivery Matters Returns Special” report, 73 percent of consumers always expect free returns, while 56 percent say they will use a different retailer that offers free returns. These stats suggest that offering free returns can boost consumer confidence, which could have an impact on conversions.

The report also sheds light on the type of items that are most frequently returned by online shoppers, revealing that 30 percent of respondents returned women’s clothes, followed by 17 percent returning men’s clothes and 16 percent returning footwear. The top reasons consumers return clothing items, according to the study, include because the item did not fit (42 percent), the item was the wrong size (31 percent) or because the item is not what the consumer expected (18 percent).

When it comes to returning a purchase, the majority of shoppers (57 percent) prefer to use a return label that was sent with the original item, which means that retailers should include a return label in packages. In addition, retailers can send return labels by email as this is online shoppers’ second preferred option, followed by downloading the return label from the retailer’s website (11 percent).

Additional data shows that most consumers (56 percent) find the return experience easy. That said, when returning a purchase from a major retailer, 54 percent of shoppers that find the return process difficult say so because of inconvenience, followed by 20 percent noting that it is difficult to get in touch with customer service and 19 percent citing cost as what makes returns difficult. The return process isn’t just important for major retailers, however, as the data shows that 78 percent of consumers say that poor return experiences impact any eventual rating that they would give a marketplace seller.

In all, the report suggests that online retailers should be taking returns seriously, as the return experience can have a significant impact on a consumer's purchasing decisions and future loyalty to a retailer.

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