Skip to content
Home Shipping Shipping & Returns

How Online Retailers Can Improve the Return Experience

Infographic - 2 Min. Read

Online shoppers are making a lot of returns, and they want the process to be easy. See their top pain points and how retailers can provide an experience that brings them back.

A customer holding a shipping box and a mobile phone, navigating a return with ease.

E-commerce is changing the way consumers think about and buy products, with returns becoming more prevalent than ever before.

Returns on the Rise

26% of shoppers say they’ve returned more than four items in the past six months.[1]
63% now admit to “bracketing” their online purchases—ordering multiple sizes and colors to find what works, then returning the rest.[2]
70% of retailers are working on lowering the transportation and processing costs of returns.[3]

Merchandise returns accounted for $743 billion in annual lost sales for U.S. retailers in 2023.[4]

These behaviors are the new normal, and online retailers have the difficult task of managing the cost and complexity of returns to make them work for both sides.

Transform Returns Into an Opportunity

A clear and friendly returns policy:

  • Separates you from competitors
  • Builds customer trust
  • Helps increase sales and referrals
  • Establishes brand loyalty
  • Can turn returns into exchanges
Consumers are 95% more likely to shop with a retailer if they have a positive returns experience.[5]

How to Make Returns Less Painful

The top reasons consumers say a return was inconvenient[6]—and what online retailers can do to make the experience better.

Clock icon

Too much time and effort

Strategy: Make returns simple

Give customers multiple ways to do a return, so they can pick what works for them. Streamlined self-service options, convenient drop-off locations, and package-less returns are good examples of customer-friendly choices.

Chat bubble icon

Lack of communication

Strategy: Provide real-time updates

Allow customers to easily track their returns via email and SMS updates. This can also help reduce calls to customer service.

Credit card icon

Waiting for a refund

Strategy: Optimize internal systems

Provide the customer with a quicker resolution, whether by offering a conditional credit or by making it easier for them to do an online exchange.

Currency icon

Paying for return shipping

Strategy: Find a way to offer a free option

Free returns up the customer experience and can even drive sales. Is there a way to reduce your outgoing shipping costs to offset the cost of providing free shipping?

Mailing label icon

No return label

Strategy: Explore print-on-demand options

Increasingly, consumers don’t have printers at home. Labels that can be printed at a shipping location using a QR Code®[7] can help with ease and convenience.

Key Takeaway

Returns have become a critical touchpoint in the customer journey. Consumers want the process to be hassle free, and feedback shows they may not shop with you again if it’s not.

For e-commerce retailers looking to connect with customers and cultivate trust, being aware of the return activities that consumers find most exasperating and working to remove any friction can go a long way toward securing brand loyalty.

  1. [1]“State of Returns: The End of One-Size-Fits-All Returns,” Narvar Inc., July 2022.
  2. [2]Ibid.
  3. [3]“Order Experience Index,” Pitney Bowes BOXpoll, 2022.
  4. [4]“Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry 2023,” National Retail Federation, Dec. 22, 2023.
  5. [5]“2023 Returns Insights and 2024 Forecast,” goTRG.
  6. [6]“Returns: a convenience wasteland?” Pitney Bowes BOXpoll, March 20, 2021.
  7. [7]QR Code is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.

Related Content