Today, we’re excited to announce the release of our latest consumer survey report – published in partnership with Loop – to shine some light on what today’s consumers really want from their experiences with e-commerce returns and exchanges.
Regardless of merchant size or industry, e-commerce returns can be an uncomfortable – but necessary – subject. And while planning to get ahead of reverse logistics may keep e-commerce business owners and ops professionals up at night, retail returns jumped an average of 16.6% in 2021 versus the previous year making it crystal clear that retailers simply can’t afford to stick their heads in the sand when faced with the complexities of consumer e-commerce returns.
We surveyed 1,000 consumers to find out how they currently manage their e-commerce returns experiences, as well as what they hope to see from the retailers they shop with in the future – and what we found offers a look at how merchants can meet high expectations in an increasingly digital-first world. Below, we highlight a few key findings from our survey, and we recommend downloading the full report for even deeper insights.
Your Return Policy Matters
Our survey found that 84% of consumers read a return policy before making a purchase online, and 44% of those will look for an alternate brand or retailer if they’re unhappy with what they see. If you haven’t already drafted a consumer-friendly returns policy – or communicated it clearly with your customers – these results show that you may be missing an excellent opportunity to encourage more cart conversions and build a more loyal customer base.
When initiating a return, 30% of consumers prefer using a pre-printed return label included with the original shipment (39% prefer this initiation method when initiating an exchange). When you consider that roughly one-third of US-based consumers don’t have a printer at home, it makes good business sense to include a label – just in case – because it delivers an easier end-to-end experience for customers.
When you also keep in mind that merchants who go this route are only charged if the return label is actually scanned, it poses virtually no risk for you as a merchant. Including a pre-printed label can also work as a competitive advantage, as Shippo’s 2021 State of Shipping Report showed over half of merchants currently say a customer needs to contact the team to request a return label and send an item back, while only 3.5% include a return label in every box.
Incentivize More Purchases by Embracing the Exchange
Our survey found that 67% of consumers who returned an item purchased online have also exchanged 1-4 items purchased online, while 18% exchanged anywhere from five to more than ten items. These numbers highlight the potential for not only keeping customers engaged despite initiating a return, but also using returns as a way to generate more revenue, especially if you have both a digital and physical presence – 83% of consumers told us that they end up shopping in a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store most of the time after completing a return there, with over a quarter of those individuals spending more than the original purchase amount and just under half spending about the same. Further highlighting the opportunity, Loop data shows that customers who exchange for a new product have a 34% higher repeat purchase rate than those who have never returned an item.
To get the complete picture of today’s consumer mindset around e-commerce returns and exchanges, be sure to download the full 2022 E-commerce Returns & Exchanges Report: What Consumers Want.