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Point of no return: 89% of consumers identify returns as priority for ecommerce retailers

  • 81% of consumers would write off a retailer if they saw issues with return process
  • 61% say easy returns result in exchanges over refund

89% of consumers identify ease of returns as top priority when purchasing online. That’s according to new data from delivery experience platform Sorted, which found that retailers who get the returns process right will reap the most consumer loyalty.

The survey, consisting of 2,000 UK respondents, found that those with strong returns processes in place will also see a return on investment, with 61% saying they would be more likely to exchange a product bought online than get a refund if exchanging was made simpler.

Adversely, 81% say they would avoid ordering from an online retailer if they saw issues with their return process, a concern for retailers when 29% of consumers claim to have had an unsatisfactory returns experience in the last 12 months. The data also revealed that 44% would not re-order from an online retailer if they had experienced issues with their return process, and 36% would be reluctant to reorder from those retailers failing to provide clear returns details.

The need for seamless returns

The research also demonstrated a real hunger for proactive communications, with 77% saying that getting timely updates on the progress of their return, refund or exchange would make them more likely to purchase from that retailer again. Additionally, a quick and simple refund process (42%) and the ability to return via a local shop or a convenient location (26%) was revealed as crucial for customers.

Consumer expectations were also identified, with respondents saying they are more likely to be lenient with smaller retailers when it comes to returns. Alternatively, over nine in ten believe it is important for large corporate retailers to have a seamless returns process (94%).

The findings come at a time when ecommerce continues to soar, following a trend that has polarised retail since the onset of the pandemic. Shipping volumes through the SortedREACT platform increased by 429% during peak season (October to December 2021 vs the same period in 2020), meaning UK retailers have reached a critical point with the delivery and returns experiences they offer to consumers.

“In the aftermath of the Christmas peak, retailers are going to be dealing with an influx of returns. However, at every opportunity, a refund could become an exchange. Those who fail to offer quick and convenient ecommerce experiences will no doubt suffer in this competitive landscape,” shares Carmen Carey, CEO of Sorted.

“Retailers must learn that they can’t simply stop the brand experience the very moment an order reaches the customer’s door, but ensure a seamless process is carried right through the customer journey. With returns now a major point of differentiation for brands, retailers – big and small – must invest in the full post-purchase journey in order to both attract and retain the modern customer.”