Online Shoppers Often Keep Things They Don’t Want

Even Amazon Prime members are unlikely to send back unwanted goods

Author: Jen King

June 12, 2018

Shopping online can be an uncertain experience for many consumers—are those shoes going to fit? Will that bookshelf really go well with my other furniture? 

There's always the option to return any unwanted purchases, but new data from National Public Radio (NPR) and The Marist Poll found that many consumers would rather keep items they don't want instead of returning them. 

In fact, just 2% of total US digital buyers surveyed said they return digital purchases "very often," while another 7% said they do so "often."

Even Amazon Prime members aren't into returning their online purchases. Over two-thirds said they do so "only rarely," while roughly a quarter said they "never" do.  

According to Stephanie Calvano, director of data management and technology at The Marist Poll, the decision to keep an online purchase instead of returning it comes down to time and cost. "The very factors that tend to drive online shoppers to the digital marketplace," she said. 

Keeping merchandise even when it’s not wanted is relatively common. A Happy Returns survey conducted last year found that while roughly two-thirds of US digital buyers had returned an item, some 37% admitted that they’ve kept an unwanted item, and never used it.

Indeed, consumers value a return policy that makes sending an item back easy. Factors that lessen the hassle of a return for US digital shoppers include full refunds, not having a set time limit on returns and free return shipping.