Resetting Customer Expectations: the State of eCommerce Returns in 2022

As we enter Black Friday and Christmas shopping season, eCommerce sales are expected to rise and with that, so are returns. Whether someone is looking for the perfect Christmas party outfit or trying to order the right size jumper for their dad, 74% of consumers admit to buying multiple sizes with the intention of returning [1]. However, this year many customers will have to think twice before placing an order as some major retailers, such as Zara, Boohoo and Abercrombie and Fitch, have scrapped free eCommerce returns, and others, like H&M, are still considering the decision.

Although 60% of consumers in the UK would consider shopping elsewhere to avoid online return fees [2], there’s other research in the UK that has found 50% of UK adults saying it’s the customer’s responsibility to pay for shipping charges while making online returns [3]. So, is it time we break old patterns and start looking at charging for returns in a new light?

Understanding the pros and cons of introducing a returns fee should be a good start:

Pros of a paid returns service:

  1. Paid returns can be beneficial to the environment as it forces people to be more considerate of cost when they shop, helping reduce the number of people who buy multiple sizes (74%) and colours (64%) with the intentions of returning [1].
  2. An obvious benefit of charging for returns is the cost savings of businesses not having to pay for postage.
  3.  If customers really don’t want to pay a returns fee, many will have the option of returning their items in-store for free. By increasing footfall, businesses can display more of their items directly in front of customers, encouraging another sale.
  4. As customers will have to pay a returns fee, it might encourage them to increase their order spend so that if they do have to request any returns, it can be done in one payment.

Cons of a paid returns service

  1. If your eCommerce business has always offered free returns, changing this now may come as a shock to many customers, causing a drop in loyalty and sales.
  2. Reduces your competitiveness against those that are still offering free returns.
  3. With the current cost of living crisis, many customers may feel disconnected from your brand, which can negatively impact your brand image.
  4. As 90% of customers revealed that they would be more inclined to purchase from an online store if offered free returns [4], businesses would be taking a huge risk in choosing to change their policies.

GFS’s Managed Multi-Carrier Services

Whether you choose to continue offering free eCommerce returns or follow in the footsteps of Zara, Boohoo and other retailers, if you’re looking for a smarter way to manage parcels for your eCommerce business, GFS has got you covered with GFS Global Returns Pro. By simplifying the returns process your business can reduce costs, increase efficiencies and offer a market-leading consumer experience.

For full eCommerce delivery and returns services, GFS also offers Managed Multi – Carrier Services giving you access to widest service choice in the market, along with exclusive carrier rates, a dedicated customer care team, expert advice and pro-active support.