Most online shoppers willing to pay for returns if …

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Loop
Loop surveyed U.S. online shoppers about consumer preferences in the post-purchase experience (Graphic: Business Wire).

E-commerce retailers can charge for returns — if they make it worth the customer’s while.

Most (70%) of surveyed online U.S. consumers are willing to pay for more convenient, premium experiences — and 50% already have, according to a new study from Loop, a returns platform for Shopify retailers. In other findings, 56% of respondents who are willing to pay a return fee, and 51% said they are willing to pay between $1 and $5 for a premium return experience.

Loop’s “Consumer Preferences Require Premium Return Experiences” study found that while price remains the top factor consumers consider when making an online purchase, a retailer’s return policy is now tied for second with product delivery speed. Almost all (98%) respondents said that if a retailer provides a fast, convenient and hassle-free return experience, they will be more likely to shop there in the future.

When it comes to return methods, dropoff with a shipping partner remains the top preference across respondents all generations, including 69% of both Gen Z and baby boomers, 67% of millennials, and 66% of Gen X. However, where older generations prefer to return their items in-store, more than half (51%) of Gen Z respondents prefer at-home pickup of online returns.

“Retailers can no longer fear adding return fees,” said Jonathan Poma, CEO of Loop. “Instead, they need to add return fees smartly. Our recent survey confirmed that shoppers are expecting premium return options like at-home pickup or boxless return drop-offs. And that a majority of shoppers are even willing to pay for them. This is a huge, profitable opportunity for retailers.”

In addition, 88% of respondents agree that eco-friendly return options make them more likely to shop with a retailer again. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents regularly review return policies to gauge the sustainability level of a retailer’s return practice when considering a purchase.

NRF: Consumer returns will exceed $800 billion in 2022

According to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Appriss Retail, consumers are expected to return more than $816 billion worth of retail merchandise purchased in 2022. However, as retail sales continue to grow, the average rate of return has remained flat at 16.5%, compared with 16.6% in 2021.

Loop surveyed 1,000 U.S. online shoppers in December 2022 to better understand consumer preferences in the post-purchase experience. The report is available here.

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