84% of shoppers reject retailers with a poor returns experience

May 27, 2021 by
Sanne Leenders
returns experience

More than eight in ten (84%) online shoppers would turn their back on a retailer after a bad returns experience, according to InternetRetailing. Highlighting the power of returns as a customer acquisition and retention tool, and the repercussions of getting them wrong. 

39% of consumers have done more shopping online since COVID-19. Ultimately, this creates an increased reliance on returns means people’s patience is waning when it comes to clunky or costly returns processes. 83% of online shoppers admit to getting frustrated by retailers which have an inefficient returns process. Meanwhile 82% agree that retailers in general need to improve their returns capabilities. 

Frustrations with returns

Demonstrating the need for retailers to keep up with consumers’ changing needs, some of Brits’ biggest frustrations with returns stem from the inconvenience of slow, out of date or inflexible returns processes. More than a third (36%) cited slow refund processes as the most frustrating element of returning items bought online. Highlighting the importance of flexible payment options. Other frustrations include having to print off return forms when they do not have a printer (25%). In addition to the inconvenience of queuing to return at the post office (23%). And not being able to return items in store that they’ve bought online (21%). 

Avoiding the returns process

These frustrations with the returns process are the driving force behind emerging shopping trends. Since people are finding ways to avoid inconveniences. Over the past twelve months, 21% of online shoppers say they have reluctantly kept an item they were unhappy with because it was too much effort to return it. Moreover, 12% have avoided returning items at the post office because it is difficult to social distance. Meanwhile 11% have gifted and 9% have resold items they do not want instead of returning to the retailer. In the long run, this could mean people avoid buying again from retailers that do not meet their needs.

84% are more likely to buy from a merchant who offers free returns

For those retailers that get the returns experience right, this can serve as a competitive advantage. It can help attract new customers, and boost customer loyalty. 84% of online shoppers agree they are more likely to buy from online merchants who offer free returns. In addition, 86% are more likely to come back to online merchants who offer free returns. However, even a little added inconvenience can come at a cost. 70% of online shoppers state that if a preferred retailer stopped offering free returns, they might not shop with them. 

Growing returns expectations

There is also a consistent trend of rising consumer expectations when it comes to returns services. 80% online shoppers now believe that returns are a normal part of online shopping today, compared to 77% in 2019. Moreover, they expect that every retailer they shop with offers free returns as a minimum standard of service (81%). Furthermore, more consumers (57%) also state they would never shop with a retailer that does not offer free returns. They also say that all their preferred retailers offer free and easy returns (73%).

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