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79% of UK consumers check returns policies before purchasing

Nearly 8 out of 10 consumers checked the returns policies of retailers before committing to their purchase in the second half of last year, according to ZigZag’s Retail Returns Study.

More worryingly 42% then decided not to buy an item because of it.

With an annual spend of £180 billion in eCommerce according to eMarketer* this could equal a £75.6 billion problem this year for retailers, according to ZigZag.

“With one-third of consumers purchasing an item with the intention of returning – rising to over 40% for younger shoppers – the hurdles of retail returns need to be removed, returns need to be made easier for customers and retailers alike,” said Al Gerrie, Founder and CEO of ZigZag Global. “It’s about reducing cost, waste and friction associated with returns through automated, technology-first solutions that allow retailers to be more profitable and sustainable, which in turn will drive long-term customer loyalty.”

The research identified the top three must-haves in a returns policy for consumers. Free returns ranked first according to 78% of respondents, followed by fast refunds for 66% and not needing to print a label for 45%. Tracking items through the process and having multiple options of how to return an item were the other two essential factors cited by consumers.

Returning an item to the Post office is still the preferred method of returns for 48% of consumers, but it’s closely followed by 46% who prefer booking a courier to collect an item from home.

One in every four online shoppers is willing to pay more for a premium return service such as collection from home, a number is that is even higher across 18-25-year-old customers where over a third (36%) would be willing to pay.

A poor returns experience would make 59% of shoppers not come back and buy another item, while an easy returns policy would encourage 81% of consumers to shop again with that retailer. Nearly 80% of shoppers believe that retailers can do a better job by simply making it easier for consumers to return items bought online.

Worries about the environmental impact of returns are increasing in the UK as 43% of buyers would choose a greener or more sustainable return option even if that slows the refund process. Younger ages are more likely to consider a more sustainable policy with half of people aged between 18 and 34 years old opting for a greener option even if it meant a slower refund compared to just 36% of 56 – 65-year-olds and 31% of those aged 66+.

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