Four Key Customer Expectations for Returns

Returns are an unavoidable reality for anyone selling online. The returns process can be a hassle for your business and your customers. However, an easy and transparent process can boost your brand credibility and encourage customers to buy from you again, even after they’ve made a return. According to a ShipStation study, 72% of shoppers say return policies directly influence their online buying decisions. A good returns policy can convert consumers into customers and leave them with a better impression of your business. To create an effective policy, you need to first understand what consumers want and expect when it comes to returns. 

Here are some of the most important expectations consumers have for returns: 

1. Two-thirds of consumers have abandoned a cart due to a bad returns policy.

Your returns policy can make or break a consumer’s buying decision. When buying online, customers likely haven’t been able to tangibly experience the product they’re buying. Knowing they can return an item if it doesn’t meet their expectations is one of the most important factors when deciding whether or not to make a purchase. 

2. 67% of consumers say free returns drive them to shop with a business again after a return.

Free returns are becoming the standard in the ecommerce industry. Not only are they preferred, but they’re also cited to drive repeat purchases by customers even after they’ve made a return. If your business can’t afford to offer free returns, try to keep return costs as low as possible. $5 is the most consumers are willing to pay to process a return. A solution like ShipStation that compares live shipping rates and offers users discounted carrier rates can help businesses save on shipping costs. 

3. 71% of consumers prefer to receive cash or credit refunds over an immediate exchange.

Consumers don’t want to be locked into an exchange if they are unhappy with their order. Offering cash or credit refunds in your returns policy may make consumers more likely to buy. 59% of consumers consider a full refund the most important factor of a return policy. Make your policy on refunds clear and transparent to avoid any uncertainty or dissatisfaction among customers. 

4. The average expected returns window is 32 days.

Customers expect a reasonable amount of time to decide if they want to keep their order, process the return, and ship it back. Make sure you offer customers a fair and realistic timeline to return their products.

No one wants to have to make a return, but customers know it is part of shopping online. Making the returns experience as painless and convenient as possible for customers will not only encourage them to buy from you in the first place but may make them loyal customers as well. 49% of consumers become repeat customers after returning or exchanging orders. Understanding expectations around returns can help you create a policy that will capture these repeat customers and make the returns process a part of your growth strategy. 



Written By: Claire Sanford, Content Marketing Intern at ShipStation

Claire is a copywriting intern at ShipStation, working to inform users and ecommerce sellers about the best ways to sell and ship. In her spare time, she likes doing yoga and eating at new restaurants in Austin.


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