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Deliver first, buy second: new returns habits turn retail on its head


New research into the problem of returns, carried out by Savvy on behalf of BBC Radio 4, has demonstrated the extent to which the decision to buy is taking place after delivery has been made.
The survey of 1,000 household shopping decision makers found women’s clothing had been returned by 63% of them at least once in the preceding six months, and nearly half of UK shoppers shop online at least once every two weeks.

Other key findings included:

  • 95% of adults that have access to the internet have shopped online at least once in the past six months
  • 59% of shoppers said that they don’t visit traditional stores as much as they used to because of online shopping
  • 57% of shoppers say easy returns make them more likely to shop online
  • 25-34 year olds are the age group most likely to make returns
  • 79% think physical retailers need to do more to attract shoppers to their stores
  • 91% think there will always be a place for physical stores
  • 85% say that online retailers can never recreate the experience of shopping in a store

Around half of UK shoppers have shopped online using their smartphone, the survey found – still some way behind the laptop, which is used by 76%, however, the use of smartphone for online shopping is set to accelerate.

Jason Tavaria, head of direct at Shutl said high levels of returns were a challenge and retailers had to decide how they were going to react to them: “Returns can be seen as a problem, but smart retailers see this as an opportunity to provide outstanding service.

“After all, the easier you make it for people to return, the more they shop. You need only look at the big retailers like Amazon, John Lewis and ASOS – consumers feel confident in buying anything from them due to the trust they feel around returns.

“You must build this trust with consumers to ultimately grow your business. It is part of the cost of selling online. Without this consumers actually reduce their potential spend and only buy items that they at confident they want.”

Alastair Lockhart, insight director at Savvy said: “The retail world is playing catch-up with how today’s – and tomorrow’s – shoppers want to interact with them. The tech savvy generation have high expectations and retailers need to inspire shoppers both instore and online whilst providing all the necessary product information to help convert sales.”

With Black Friday now less than 180 days away, the peak period returns headache will be back on the agendas of retail operations and logistics professionals everywhere. In the next issue of eDelivery Magazine, we will be looking at the topic of peak readiness, with returns being one of those components being examined.

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