December 4, 2023
UK companies charging consumers to return goods face backlash as research finds 6 in 10 Brits think returns fees are wrong
LONDON, UK - Monday 4th DECEMBER 2023 - Cash-strapped consumers across the UK are taking their money elsewhere in response to retailers slashing their free returns policies, new research has revealed.
A poll of 2,000 online shoppers found over half (58 per cent) have said they won’t use retailers who charge to return items - with more than two-thirds (67 per cent) agreeing that a retailer’s returns policy influences how much trust they place in them.
The findings follow recent announcements from some major retailers that they have introduced charges for customers returning products purchased online, amidst soaring volumes of returns.
The survey - commissioned by online review platform Trustpilot - also revealed that half of Brits have bought extra items when shopping online to ensure they exceed the amount needed to qualify for free shipping, with a quarter (26 per cent) admitting they have at some point done this with the intention of returning them.
Yet despite almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of shoppers saying a retailer’s returns policy influences their decision to buy from them, just 35 per cent admit to ever considering the financial impact on retailers of returning items purchased online.
What’s more, 14 per cent of gen Z consumers admit they have at some point been a serial returner, someone who tends to buy and return a significant number of purchases.
Analysing keywords within reviews on Trustpilot, we’ve also found that the top 5 categories in the first three quarters of this year, in which consumers mention refunds /or returns, are:
Shopping and fashion (145,528 reviews)
Home and garden (47,699 reviews)
Vehicles and transportation (32,735 reviews)
Business services (30,969 reviews)
Travel and vacation (28,640 reviews)
Carolyn Jameson, chief consumer and trust officer for Trustpilot, said: “The findings are clear - a flexible returns policy is one of the most important factors in consumer decision-making when it comes to online shopping.
“Whilst offering free returns may not be realistic for all retailers, to win the loyalty of customers it’s clear that businesses need to be thinking about ways they can show flexibility whilst also doing what they can to mitigate the number of returns coming back their way — displaying reviews and clearer sizing measurements on the website are just several examples.
“One thing both consumers and businesses are likely to agree on is that returns are inconvenient for everyone, so responsible retailers should be placing a priority on finding a solution, particularly in the run-up to the busiest shopping period of the year — because the reality is, those that don’t heed these warnings may risk being left behind.”
Key things those polled looked for in a returns policy include ‘no quibble returns’ (48 per cent) and convenient return locations (47 per cent), with a minimum return period of 28 to 30 days (27 per cent) also important.
However, in a warning to retailers, by far the most valued is free returns – with 71 per cent revealing this is what they look for above all else.
The survey also revealed that whilst half of consumers (50 per cent) say they have spent less online generally, other factors driving down the amount of returns shoppers are making include being more considered when buying items (31 per cent), avoiding the stress of returns (16 per cent) and concern about their carbon footprint (eight per cent).
To find more of the research findings and for guidance on ensuring smooth returns or mitigating the process entirely, visit Trustpilot's blog here.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from OnePoll. Total sample size was 2,000 UK adults who shop online. Fieldwork was undertaken between November 17-21, 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults age 18+.
Trustpilot was founded in 2007 with a vision to create an independent currency of trust.
A digital platform that brings businesses and consumers together to foster trust and inspire collaboration. We are free to use, open to everybody, and built on transparency.
Trustpilot hosts reviews to help consumers shop with confidence and deliver rich insights to help businesses improve the experience they offer. The more consumers use our platform and share their own opinions, the richer the insights we offer businesses, and the more opportunities they have to earn the trust of consumers, from all around the world.
Over 213 million consumer reviews of businesses and products of over 893,000 domains have been posted on Trustpilot, and those numbers are growing by more than one review per second.
Trustpilot has over 850 employees and is headquartered in Copenhagen, with operations in New York, Denver, London, Edinburgh, Melbourne, Berlin, Vilnius, Milan, and Amsterdam.