More than two-thirds of consumers (67%) are abandoning orders when a retailer’s returns policy isn’t obvious, according to new research from Sendcloud.
With retailers sent to face a £7bn returns nightmare the survey also showed that half of UK consumers (49%) say they return products when they are not satisfied.
The majority of consumers still find returns a hassle (58%) and expect the retailer to take responsibility for them, with more than half (55%) saying that it is up to the retailer to arrange and pay for a product return.
Consumers also continue to want fast refunds, with three-quarters (75%) of consumers expecting to be reimbursed within a week of sending items back.
Three-quarters of consumers said they would order more frequently at stores if they offered free returns, while 71% said the same if returns were made quick and easy.
The most important aspects of the return policy to consumers were the cost (70%), providing a returns label (61%), and information on when they can expect to receive a refund (53%).
“Retailers often preconceive the returns process to be a real headache and are sometimes tempted to make their return policies more complicated in an attempt to reduce returns,” said Rob van den Heuvel, CEO, Sendcloud.
“However, the exact opposite is true as our research has proved that a simple and clear return policy is actually key in driving conversions. In fact, what we’ve found is that retailers which offer a longer return period result in fewer returns because customers are less concerned with the product that still has to be returned! All in all, a simple and clear return policy actually pays off.”
Four tips for the ideal return policy
A returns policy is therefore essential to winning over consumers. But what do consumers want to see to be convinced?
1 Free returns: it’s no surprise that consumers love the word ‘free’. Even when it comes to returns, consumers prefer to see the retailer take care of these costs. No less than 67% of consumers will not order if they have to pay the return costs themselves.
2 An easy return process: returns can be a lot of hassle, so you want to make it as easy as possible for the customer. Therefore, make sure there are enough return options. Although the majority (43%) would like to drop off a return at a parcel point, 31% would like to see the return picked up at home.
3 An extended return period: although UK law sets 14 days as the minimum period for returning an online purchase, 42% of consumers would not buy from an online store if the return period is less than 30 days. One quarter (24%) would not even order if the return period is less than 60 days. Even though it may sound contradictory, surprisingly a longer return period leads to fewer returns as consumers get attached to their goods.
4 A quick refund: UK consumers are willing to wait a maximum of 6 days to receive a refund for their returned products – much shorter than the legal period of 14 days. A timely refund stimulates repeat purchases and boosts customer satisfaction.