For Online Purchasers, Returns Remain a Turnoff

Many avoid retailers after a disappointing purchase

October 26, 2017

While a majority of digital buyers have returned items bought online, nearly four in 10 say they have avoided the retailer going forward.

The survey by Happy Returns, which is building a network of "return bars" with an aim to simplify the returns process, found that, not surprisingly, returning a purchase is shoppers' least favorite part of the online shopping experience.

Roughly two-thirds of the digital buyers surveyed said they had returned an item after a purchase, and 39% avoided purchasing from the retailer again. Almost as many, 37%, admitted to keeping the item even if they never used it.  

Consumers' dislike of returning items is a significant hurdle for online retailers. In the survey, 28% of the shoppers said they shop less online "than they would otherwise because of the hassle of mailing back a return." And slightly more than 10% said they don't use online-only retailers because of concerns about returning items.

A March survey by market researcher TrendSource illustrates the clear belief among most consumers that in-store returns are superior. Across multiple categories of products, as many as 95% of internet users said returns and exchanges were better done in-store than digitally.

The survey found similarly strong belief that the in-store shopping experience provided better customer service, again across multiple categories.