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Majority of consumers would not buy online if charged for returns, study finds


If shoppers were to be charged £2 for returning items purchased online 67% would not buy the item, according to a new survey by digital receipt start-up Slip.

The London-based technology firm said there was “consumer outrage” when Zara announced they were moving away from a free return policy earlier this year. And found 60% of respondents always consider the returns policy when buying both in-store and online.

Its Returns in the UK report surveyed consumers between July and August, finding 33% of respondents never consider the environmental impacts of returns, and only 6% consider the environment all of the time.

Slip’s Returns in the UK report looked at how often participants consider the environmental impact of returns

Furthermore, when asked ‘what is your least favourite thing about the returns process?’ zero respondents selected ‘The Environmental Impact’, while travelling to the Post Office or a store to process the return was the most quoted dislike at 66% of responses.

The survey also highlighted that consumers have little understanding of the effect of returns on retailers. It found 26% of shoppers believe returns lost retailers less than £500m, and 55% of respondents think this number is between £500m – £3bn. In reality, the growing number of returns is costing UK retailers around £7 billion a year.

A large proportion of the cost occurs in warehouse management processes, where products are shipped, sorted, cleaned, restocked, and then resold. The report added retailers sometimes throw the items away as a more cost-effective measure. Its research showed that only 30% of the largest retailers can quantify the costs of returns, and only 23% use some sort of technology to manage returns.

“As online shopping continues to increase in popularity, returns will become a larger problem for retailers across the UK significantly damaging their bottom line” the report stressed.

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