Free returns mean higher sales, survey finds

Over three quarters of consumers would buy more from a retailer if offered free returns, according to a new survey by Klarna.

The poll of 2000 UK consumers found that the volume of items had increased 14% since 2017.

The survey found that 82% of consumers believed returns were a normal part of online shopping, while 31% would be more likely to buy something online if they could pay for it after trying it at home.

Seventy-eight percent would buy more over time with free returns, while 86% said it would make them more loyal and likely to keep coming back.

There were a number of reasons for returning items. 26% return items because they are faulty, while 27% return items because the fit isn’t right and 19% return items because the product looks different online to reality.

Eighty-one percent of shoppers saying that better photos and descriptions would help reduce the ‘false expectations effect’ and consequently the amount they return.

Luke Griffiths, UK GM at Klarna, said: “It’s no secret that for retailers, returns can be difficult to manage and there is a common misconception that they’re bad for business. But retailers who aren’t prioritising their returns processes are damaging their business – losing sales, and eroding customer loyalty.

“By embracing returns as a competitive differentiator, online retailers can stand out from the crowd with “pay after delivery’ — allowing their customers to turn their sitting room into a fitting room.”

Tim Robinson, Doddle CEO, said: “Returns are a huge headache for retailers but they’re not going away. For many online shoppers, they’re a right and necessity – the online equivalent of the pile of clothes you used to hand back to the shopping room assistant in store.

“As a retailer, once you take this as the context, the focus changes. Returns become just another cost in the online supply chain, like packaging or shipping costs, and rather than being a problem that needs to be solved the focus turns to optimisation and efficiency.”

Opinion: Returns – an essential differentiator on the ecommerce battleground