May 27, 2021
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Returns are key issue for post-pandemic consumers

May 27, 2021

We know having a solid returns policy is important to any fashion business, so how’s yours? A new survey worryingly suggests 82% of UK consumers think retailers in general need to improve their returns capabilities, according to Klarna.

Photo: Pexels

If you think that number’s high, 83% of online shoppers admit to getting frustrated by retailers that have an inefficient returns process. Even worse, a whopping 84% would turn their backs on a company after a bad returns experience.

With 39% of consumers having done more shopping online since the pandemic, some of  biggest frustrations with returns stem from the inconvenience of slow, out of date or inflexible returns processes. 

Over a third (36%) cited slow refund processes as the most frustrating element of returning items bought online, highlighting the importance of flexible payment options. 

Other frustrations include having to print return forms when they don't have a printer (25%), the inconvenience of queuing to return at the post office (23%) and not being able to return items in-store that they’ve bought online (21%). 
Exacerbated by the coronavirus, the report says these frustrations with the returns process are the driving force behind emerging shopping trends, as people find ways to avoid inconveniences. 

Over the past 12 months, 21% of online shoppers say they’ve reluctantly kept an item they were unhappy with because it was too much effort to return it, 12% have avoided returning items at the post office because it's difficult to social distance, while 11% have gifted and 9% have resold items they don’t want instead of returning them to the retailer. 

In the long run, this could mean people avoid buying again from retailers that don’t meet their needs, the report said.
But for those retailers that get returns right, it can serve as a competitive advantage, helping to attract new customers, and boost customer loyalty, the reports suggests. 

Some 84% of online shoppers agree they’re more likely to buy from and 86% are more likely to come back to online merchants that offer free returns. 

Even a little added inconvenience can come at a cost. Some 70% of online shoppers state that if a preferred retailer stopped offering free returns, they might not shop with them.

The research also uncovers a consistent trend of rising consumer expectations when it comes to returns services. Compared to 2019, a greater number of online shoppers now believe that returns are a normal part of online shopping today (80%, up from 77%) and expect that every retailer they shop with offers free returns as a minimum standard of service (81%, up from 75%). 

Importantly, consumers also now state they’d never shop with a retailer that didn’t offer free returns (57%, up from 53%), and that all their preferred retailers offer free and easy returns (73% up from 70%).

Alex Marsh, Head of Klarna UK, said: “As reliance on returns grows, retailers need to ensure they’re offering a smooth, seamless process that meets the needs of today’s customers -- considering everything from effortless logistics to flexible payment options. As our research suggests, those that fail to adapt will lose customers in the long term”. 

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