Three quarters say returns are key to customer loyalty

Three quarters of shoppers say easy returns are an essential factor in their choice of retailer, according to research from Klarna.

A survey of over 2,000 consumers by the pay-later service, also found that 84 per cent of shoppers would refuse to come back to a brand if they have a poor returns experience.

Furthermore, the survey found that number of consumers needing to return faulty items more than doubled between 2017 and 2019 - from 12 per cent to 26 per cent - and nearly quadrupled for items in cases where the quality didn’t meet expectations - up to 22 per cent in 2019 from six per cent in 2017.

Nearly a third of shoppers (27 per cent) had returned items because the fit wasn’t right, while the number returning items because the product looked different online than in reality has more than doubled since 2017 (eight per cent to 19 per cent).

As a result, 81 per cent of shoppers said that better photos and descriptions would help reduce the ‘false expectations effect’ and consequently reduce the amount they need to return.

Meanwhile, 86 per cent of shoppers said the option of free returns would be more likely to increase their loyalty as customers, while the option of returning a number of items for free was also shown to boost the amount they were willing to spend, with 78 per cent of shoppers saying they would buy more in the long-run if a retailer offered this service.

The findings come as consumers increasingly switch their shopping online, with 82 per cent of those asked saying that returning items after ordering them from an e-commerce site was a ‘normal part’ of the experience.

Responding to the survey findings, Tim Robinson, chief executive of delivery and click and collect service Doddle, said that 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.

He added: “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.”

Luke Griffiths, UK general manager at Klarna, said: “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.”

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