Nearly six in 10 Brits have stopped using retailers – who charge for returns, study finds | Personal Finance | Finance


Cash-strapped consumers are taking their money elsewhere, in response to retailers slashing their free returns policies, research has found. A poll of 2,000 online shoppers found 58 percent don’t use retailers who charge to return items – with 67 percent admitting a retailer’s returns policy influences how much trust they place in them.

The findings come as growing numbers of retailers impose charges on customers returning products purchased online, amid soaring volumes of items sent back.

The study, by global online review platform, Trustpilot, which has created a guide to smooth returns, also found 13 percent have purchased extra items when shopping online, just to qualify for free shipping.

And 43 percent have done so with every intention of returning such items, so they benefit from gratis postage with their initial order.

The study also found 63 percent of shoppers decide whether to shop with particular retailers, based on their returns policy. But despite this, just 35 percent consider the financial impact on businesses, of returning items purchased online.

Carolyn Jameson, chief consumer and trust officer for Trustpilot, said: “The findings are clear – a flexible returns policy is one of the most important factors in consumer decision-making, when it comes to online shopping.

“Offering free returns may not be realistic for all retailers. In order to win the loyalty of customers, it’s clear that businesses need to be thinking about ways they can show flexibility, whilst also doing what they can to mitigate the number of returns coming back their way.

“Displaying reviews and clearer sizing measurements on the website are just several examples.”

Those polled also revealed what they look for in a returns policy – including “no quibble returns” (48 percent), and convenient return locations (47 percent), with a minimum return period of 28 to 30 days (27 percent) also important.

However, in a warning to retailers, by far the most valued stipulation is free returns – with 71 percent admitting this is what they look for above all else.

The study, carried out through OnePoll, also found that, of those who have ever sent back an item purchased online, 24 percent have returned fewer items during the past year – and 50 percent have done so because they have spent less money over the web generally.

Other factors driving down returns numbers include being more considered when buying items (31 percent), and trying to avoiding the stress of returns (16 percent). Meanwhile, concern about the carbon footprint of sending back purchases is also a factor, for eight percent.

Carolyn Jameson added: “One thing both consumers and businesses are likely to agree on is that returns are inconvenient for everyone.

“So, responsible retailers should be placing a priority on finding a solution, particularly in the run-up to the busiest shopping period of the year – because the reality is, those that don’t heed these warnings may risk being left behind.”

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