Return shipping charges turn off would-be repeat online customers – survey

14 Dec 2012

Retailers who charge their customers for return shipping might as well bid them adieu for good, as most of them are unlikely to buy from those retailers again, a new survey suggests.

The survey commissioned by ShopRunner conducted by Harris Interactive of more than 3,000 US adults reveals consumers are not only concerned about shipping charges when it comes to receiving items purchased online, but shipping charges should they need to return items, as well.

Eighty-one per cent of online shoppers said they are not likely to make additional purchases from websites that charge shipping on returns, and 69pc of respondents feel that returning items purchased online is a complicated process.

These results echo the findings of a September 2012 study from Washington and Lee University that tracked consumer spending over four years. That study discovered that customers paying for their own returns universally decreased their spending, between 75pc and 100pc at that retailer by the end of two years after the return. In contrast, customers who received free return shipping universally increased their spending with that retailer between 158pc and 457pc.

Speed is also a factor for consumers when it comes to shipped items. Seventy-seven per cent would spend more online and less in stores if free one- or two-day shipping was offered. 

Additionally, having more faster free shipping options would drive 65pc of shoppers to procrastinate and put off making purchases longer than usual.

“These results demonstrate a huge opportunity for retailers to increase sales by meeting the increasing consumer demands for online shopping, including free and easy returns, fast delivery, and streamlined checkout,” said Fiona Dias, chief strategy officer of ShopRunner.

“The bar has been raised by competitors, but it is challenging for most retailers to cost effectively offer these shopping benefits on their own.”

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic