Returns Policies Make 73% of Consumers Think Twice About Purchasing


It seems a retailer’s returns policy is a sticky topic for British shoppers today. When you type “returns policy” UK into the Google search bar, phrases like “returns ban hits shoppers”, “blacklist serial returners” and “clamping down” come thick and fast. It gives the impression retailers have had enough of pernickety purchases.

But are British consumers really that bad?

consumer retail returns behavioursDetermined to find out, e-commerce retailer conducted a survey. The ‘Consumer Retail Returns Survey’ asked 1,424 British shoppers to reveal how they deal with retail returns and what they think about retailers “clamping down” on their policies.

The survey conducted by OnBuy found one third (32%) of shoppers would describe themselves as a “serial returner” (someone who returns more items than they keep); 68% of consumers would NOT describe themselves as a “serial returner” owing to the fact they only return items with due reason.

The most common reason why consumers return products? It “doesn’t fit/suit me” (77%.) This is followed by reasons like it’s “damaged/faulty” (14%), I’m “displeased with customer service” (5%) and simply, “want the money back” (5%.)

When it comes to how long consumers are likely to keep a return before sending it back, most British shoppers are prompt. 55% of consumers return their product as soon as possible, compared to a far fewer 14% who leave it up to a week. Just 5% of consumers leave it until the last possible moment.

86% of shoppers check the returns section of a site before purchasing, to ensure they are fully aware of policies and rights, while 14% leave it to chance.

Just under a third of consumers (27%) admit they have worn an item before taking it back, while 73% argue they have never worn an item, then returned it.

OnBuy’s survey did encourage 59% of British shoppers to admit they have been too lazy to return an item they didn’t like.

Brits will think twice about purchasing in the future

When it comes to the new returns guidelines some outlets are introducing, OnBuy discovered 73% of Brits will think twice about purchasing in the future because they are fearful of being blacklisted and do not want to face any extra hassle.

return policy behaviours

When asked, “What do you want from a returns policy?” Consumers made it clear they want the process to be “hassle-free” (86%), to include “free shipping” (68%), and the necessary “returns packaging” to be provided by the retailer (50%.)

A further 27% of shoppers added they would prefer “no limits on returns”, while 18% desire a “no questions asked” policy.

*Thanks to for providing the research for this post.  You can check out our interview with OnBuy CEO Cas Paton here.

For almost 10 years Dave has been involved with eCommerce with a particular interest in the marketplaces and the huge opportunities available for sellers when utilizing a multi-channel strategy. After a year of being the UK’s youngest eCommerce consultant it was the opportunity to start UnderstandingE with Matt Ogborne showing the world how to utilize Magento as the Third Generation of Multi-Channel software. Dave also recently started a YouTube channel called the Manc Entrepreneur (click YouTube icon link below to watch Dave's videos) where he discusses all things eCommerce and entrepreneurship aimed to help young entrepreneurs get started on their own journey. When Dave isn’t working his main interests include, Technology, Cars and throwing himself off high things into water.


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