51% Of Shoppers Avoid Retailers With Strict Return Policies

  • January 2, 2018 at 1:40 PM EST
  • By Glenn Taylor
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As the holiday season concludes, retailers now must manage an influx of returns. This period is critical in setting the tone for the coming year: more than 63% of shoppers agree (and 35% of shoppers strongly agree) that if they have a negative return experience, they will not return to that retailer, according to research  from Promocodes.com.

Strict return policies can inhibit many consumers from shopping at a specific retailer in the first place: 51% said they avoid shopping at retailers with strict return policies, and 29% strongly agreed with this statement.

Even if consumers choose a retailer with a tough return policy, they won’t spend much there. Respondents reporting that return policies affect their purchase amount spend, on average, no more than $43.12 at stores with unfavorable policies.

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Consumers have distinct preferences for different return policies, particularly depending on whether the item is bought in-store or online. Both in-store (37.9%) and online (33.6%) shoppers consider a full refund to be the most important return policy retailers can implement. In-store shoppers also prefer options that:

  • Do not require a receipt (20.9%);
  • Have no time limit for returns (16.1%); and
  • Do not require bringing original payment method (10.8%).

Online shoppers care about free returns (27.8%), as well as no time limits (12.1%) and an option to return the product in store (11%).

Four Steps To Returns Approval

The Promocodes.com report recommends retailers take four actions if they want to gain approval for their returns policies in 2018:

  • Create a rewards program so that purchase history is included, and members can return products even if they don’t have a paper receipt;
  • Consider expanding the return time frame;
  • Make it easier for customer to return an item, whether through free return shipping or providing the option to return any item purchased online in-store; and
  • Do not saddle customers with store credit, even if the short-term impact if beneficial.

Promocodes.com, in partnership with Research Now, surveyed 1,000 U.S. shoppers to gather data for the report.

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