Making Sense of Online Returns

Feature image - making sense of e-commerce product returns

Updated: November 2023


Why It’s Vital to Factor Returns into Your Ecommerce Business Metrics

The return policies of ecommerce platforms aren’t just a functional aspect of online shopping – they are a crucial part of the consumer experience and can significantly impact business performance. In a competitive ecommerce landscape, understanding and catering to the nuances of customer return behaviors can be a game-changing strategy. It influences customer loyalty, brand reputation, and, ultimately, the bottom line.

Bizrate Insights surveyed 1,050 verified shoppers to collect insight into how the returns process affects their shopping experience, buying behavior, and sentiment. Here’s what we learned:

This recent Bizrate Insights survey shows most people very rarely return products to a e-commerce store

The data skews slightly by gender – showing a higher reluctance in men to engage in the returns process. That said, a majority of customers are quite selective in making returns. 44.96% of participants claim they hardly ever return items, while 33.81% rarely do so. Only a minimal 2.21% claim to return items frequently. While these are broad insights and consumer behavior might vary in your vertical or on your ecommerce store specifically, most consumers do not want to waste the retailer’s time and money with spurious returns.

Which brings us to the next question – why do consumers return items?

Understanding Why Customers Return Items

The leading cause for returns, selected 425 times, is receiving a damaged product. The disconnect between expectation and reality is the second most common reason, with 372 mentions of returning items that didn’t match the online description or image. Misdeliveries also contribute to the return statistics.

Reasons customers return e-commerce purchases

These insights emphasize the need for quality control, accurate product representation, and meticulous delivery processes to mitigate return instances.

How Your Returns Policy Influences Consumer Behavior

Our consumer survey shed light on the intrinsic role of a clear, favorable return policy in shaping consumer decisions. A clearly stated return policy is not an afterthought but a pivotal factor swaying purchase decisions. Out of 1,050 respondents, only 59 said they don’t factor a returns policy into their buying decision. The answer “I won’t purchase if there’s no clear returns policy” was selected 154 times, and the answer “I only purchase if there is a good returns policy” got 200 votes. Additionally, “I always check the return policy” got 238 votes. A clear, transparent, and accommodating return policy is no longer optional but necessary in today’s e-commerce landscape.

How an e-commerce store's returns policy affect consumer behavior

Preferred Return Processes

How your company facilitates returns can enhance or dampen the customer experience. According to our data, a whopping 65.20% of consumers prefer returning items via pre-paid shipping labels. The convenience and cost-effectiveness of this method appeal to the modern shopper. Giving customers easy access to a printable return label would help those who need to return an item, as they wouldn’t have to wait for a label to be emailed or shipped.

Preferred product return method

Tailoring return processes to diverse customer preferences can be the subtle difference setting a brand apart.

Understand Your Customers

As ecommerce continues to evolve, refining return policies and processes is indispensable. The meticulous observation of return trends, backed by data, can lead to enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced return rates, and increased profitability.

While traditional views of returns used to focus mainly on logistics, the modern ecommerce entrepreneur sees returns as an integral aspect of the overall customer journey. Every return is an opportunity for interaction, an opening to solidify trust, enhance brand reputation, and cement customer loyalty.

As business leaders, aligning with the dynamic needs and expectations of customers, understanding the underlying motivations for returns, and optimizing return policies for convenience and clarity is a strategic imperative.

To navigate this complex yet rewarding landscape, insights rooted in data are your compass. Bizrate Insights is your partner in this journey, offering nuanced, data-driven perspectives on consumer behavior and sentiment. Our in-depth consumer feedback from verified customers empowers you to transform every return into a strategic interaction, enhancing shopper satisfaction and loyalty.

Stop guessing in the dark. Leverage the power of insights, turn data into action, and transform returns into strategic opportunities for enhanced customer engagement and business growth.

Reach out to Bizrate Insights today. Because every customer experience counts.

[bi_post_cta tagline=”Get In Touch With Us” copy=”Our multi-channel capabilities and breadth of experience working with organizations in every vertical make us the industry leader in Voice of Customer Solutions.” image=”” buttontext=”Schedule A Call”]