Online retailers who offer free delivery do not experience an increase in returns. Although many consumers often don’t pay for a delivery, free delivery is almost never the reason for returning purchases.
Whistl concluded this after a study in which they looked at the parcel return behaviour of UK-based online shoppers. Approximately 60% of respondents did not pay for delivery and said that their return had nothing to do with the free delivery. This is despite the fact that clothing, shoes and consumer electronics purchases are among the most returned items.
The research shows that the items that are most likely to be returned are clothes and shoes. This is followed by consumer electronics and home & kitchen appliances. On the other hand, the items least likely to be returned are books, items for pets and video games.
Whether a customer checks the return policy before purchase, after purchase or not at all, depends on what items are bought. Research shows that most consumers will read the returns policy before they buy garden items or car accessories online. However, when they buy disposable items (books, CDs), consumers are far less likely to check a returns policy.
Customers check the returns policy before ordering when purchasing garden and outdoor items, car accessories and DIY items. They check the return policy afterwards when ordering kitchenware, furniture and items for children and babies. Checking the return policy when the order has already been received is most common with gifts, hobby items and consumer electronics. As for the question of what makes a good return policy, the respondents of Whistl's study said that free returns, quick refunds and pre-printed return labels are most important.
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