Consumers don’t like paying to make online returns.
More than six in 10 shoppers all want the same option when returning an online purchase.
Sixty-three percent of surveyed consumers care about free shipping when making an online return, according to “The State of Online Order Returns in 2022,” a new study from reverse logistics platform ParcelLab and YouGov. Having a return label or QR code sent with the original order was the second most popular option, at 33%.
The study suggested that the decision by some retailers to charge for online returns will not sit well with consumers. Most respondents are unwilling to pay for returns, with 53% of surveyed customers saying they believe the retailer should cover the cost of returns. Almost six in 10 (58%) would rather return products in-store to avoid fees.
In addition to free returns and having a return label or QR code sent with the order, consumers also care about having a returns drop-off location/point (20%), having a clearly advertised return policy on a company’s website (19%) and real-time live updates (16%). (The study allowed for respondents to select more than one option.)
In other findings, 92% of consumers say a brand‘s returns policy sways their purchase decisions at least some of the time. In addition, 62% of surveyed shoppers say they are unlikely to shop with a retailer that provides a poor returns experience.
Almost eight in 10 respondents (78%) have had to return their purchases. However, more than half (54%) said they return online orders less than 10% of the time.
Retailers don’t follow through
As part of the study, ParcelLab also placed orders with the biggest e-commerce retailers in the U.S. between November 2021 and January 2022. The study reveals that a little over half (51%) of retailers tested don’t offer free returns, despite widespread consumer preference for them.
For the most part (87%), ParcelLab research indicates it costs between $5 and $10 to return an item. Meanwhile, 13% of the orders included in its study cost less than $5 to return. None of the orders included in the research cost more than $10 to return.
Consumer data in the study is based on an online survey conducted between October 6 and 8, 2022. A total of 1,320 people participated in the study, and the results were weighted and representative of the U.S. population aged 18 and over.
A different perspective on returns
Interestingly, a recent study from Loop, a returns platform for Shopify retailers, indicates 70% of surveyed online U.S. consumers are actually willing to pay for more convenient, premium experiences — and 50% already have. 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.