By the Numbers: What customers really think about returns

How well do retailers truly know their customers’ opinion of returns? Viewed as a necessary evil, ticking time-bomb or painful cost centre by many retailers, it turns out that customers don’t particularly enjoy sending back items. However, they absolutely need the reassurance that returns provide in order to feel safe making orders online.

We’ve collected all the stats, facts and figures about returns, including original Doddle research in conjunction with YouGov. Does the statistical picture match up to your thinking?

This post is part of our series on eCommerce Returns. Check out our master Guide to eCommerce Returns for a full insight on how to improve your customer experience and make returns more profitable.

Returns are essential for ecommerce

  • 62% “would buy again” from a brand that offers free returns (Dotcom Distribution, 2018)
  • 69% are put off from making a purchase by paying for return shipping (Narvar, 2018)
  • 90% “highly value” free returns (Dotcom Distribution, 2018)
  • 96% would shop with a retailer again after an “easy” or “very easy” return experience (Narvar, 2018)
  • 54% of shoppers name free returns as a key motivator for shopping online, only free shipping was higher rated (Walker Sands, 2018) 

Return rates

  • More than three quarters of online shoppers say they return less than 10% of their purchases annually (Klarna, 2017)
  • 41% of shoppers buy multiple variations of a product with the intention of returning some (Narvar)
  • Apparel and footwear comprise 40% of all returns (Narvar)
  • 42% of shoppers have returned something within the last 6 months (Return Magic Survey)

Why are products returned?

doddle return reason percentages

(data from Return Magic)

A culture of returns

  • One in 50 online shoppers admit to returning clothes they buy online ‘most of the time’
  • One in six (17%) 18-34 year olds return the clothes they buy online ‘half of the time or more’#
  • 30% of men and 53% of women like using click & collect services because of the ability to try on and return items straight away
  • Two thirds (65%) of all returns made to Doddle counters are made during just two time-slots: 23% before 10am and 42% during lunch
  • 28% of online shoppers would prefer to return their items via a drop off box
  • A third of men (32%) and 47% of 18-24 year olds would prefer to return to a drop off box

    (Doddle Pulse/YouGov)

What does it all mean?

Clearly, consumers need returns options to feel secure. Some shoppers take advantage of returns to “wardrobe”, trying on or testing a range of products at home, keeping one and sending back the rest. This can be a thorny issue for retailers. However, there are options and services which they can provide to account for this behaviour and the factors behind it. For example, services like Prime Wardrobe et al represent retailers pricing this wardrobing behaviour and building a service around the desire to try on before deciding what to keep.

free returns ebook download

Additionally, customers are beginning to use click & collect so that they can use changing rooms and quickly make returns in-store. In-store returns has a significant benefit for retailers in that the shopper is then surrounded by replacement options if they’re dissatisfied with a product. As the data show, 34% of returns are due to incorrect sizing. In-store collection returns allows a customer to go and find the right size to replace the returned product with, recovering lost revenue immediately.

When M&S used our Powered by Doddle technology to enable M&S.com customers to return their shopping to Simply Food stores as well as to core M&S stores shoppers said the increased choice would increase their use and loyalty: 97% said they’d use the service again 85% said the ability to return online purchases at Simply Food locations would encourage them to order more frequently.

To find out how you can upgrade your returns process and have happier customers, book a consultation with Doddle today.