78% of shoppers say free returns will keep them coming back - report

today Mar 14, 2019
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Easy returns have quickly become a norm in the UK fashion industry over the last two years, and new research from Klarna has found that retailers who don’t embrace them are losing sales and customer loyalty.

A survey of 2,000 UK consumers conducted by payments provider Klarna in January 2019 has showed that the majority of consumers think returns are now a normal part of online shopping.

In fact, 75% of shoppers say easy returns are an essential factor in their choice of retailer, and 78% would buy more with a retailer over time if it offers free returns. Further, 86% of UK consumers say the option of free returns will make them loyal and more likely to keep coming back to a brand.

“It’s no secret that for retailers, returns can be difficult to manage and there is a common misconception that they’re bad for business. But retailers who aren’t prioritising their returns processes are damaging their business - losing sales, and eroding customer loyalty,” said Luke Griffiths, UK general manager of Klarna.

“By embracing returns as a competitive differentiator, online retailers can stand out from the crowd with “pay after delivery’ - allowing their customers to turn their sitting room into a fitting room. Over a quarter of respondents (26%) said this would make them trust a retailer more and 63% said it would encourage them to keep more items, helping build a relationship with customers and secure long-term loyalty,” he continued.


Consumers want to have the option to return an item in-store or via post or pickup, and 31% are more likely to buy something online if they are offered a ‘pay later’ option. But the growing gap between what is advertised and what customers receive in real life is also partially responsible for the 14% rise in the volume of online returns over the past years.

According to the report, the proportion of consumers returning faulty items has more than doubled to 26% between 2017 and 2019, and now 22% of shoppers have returned items where the quality didn’t meet expectations (up from 6% in 2017). Additionally, 19% of Britons have returned items because the product looks different online than in reality.

Introducing better photos and descriptions could help manage the “false expectations effect” and reduce the volume of returns, according to Klarna.

Tim Robinson, Doddle CEO said: “Returns are a huge headache for retailers but they’re not going away.  For many online shoppers, they’re a right and necessity – the online equivalent of the pile of clothes you used to hand back to the shopping room assistant in store.

“As a retailer, once you take this as the context, the focus changes. Returns become just another cost in the online supply chain, like packaging or shipping costs, and rather than being a problem that needs to be solved the focus turns to optimisation and efficiency.”

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