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Insight: new research shows a drop in free returns

New research has found that there has been a significant drop in the number of UK and European retailers offering customers free returns.


Insight: new research shows a drop in free returns

New research has found that there has been a significant drop in the number of UK and European retailers offering customers free returns.

The report by cross-border and UK returns specialist Rebound measured the return policies of over 200 retailers using seven key metrics covering interactions with shoppers. These measured various aspects of returns – from choice of returns options and timescales for refunds, to policy reminders and free returns.

The study found the number of retailers offering free returns in at least one international market has dropped from from 55% in Q1 to just 28% in the latest poll.

Part of a series of benchmarks entitled ‘The Great Returns Race’ , it also reveals that only 6% of retailers are promoting their returns policy at all three key stages of purchase – product page, basket page and checkout page. 

Charlotte Monk-Chipman, head of marketing at Rebound, said: “This is one of the most insightful benchmarks that we’ve done to-date. We use the research as a way of stepping into the shoes of shoppers from all over the world to see how this first interaction with a return policy affects their return experience.”

One of the more noticeable trends to emerge was the large drop in free returns being offered in the UK, US, Ireland and Germany. Rebound said this fluctuation is likely to have been influenced by the challenging political and economic landscape, with some brands likely to only have temporarily removed them as a benefit for customers.

The benchmark also shows a 5% increase in brands offering customers different returns periods to account for varying transit times, and a 3% improvement in website accessibility, which considers the number of ‘moves’ it takes for a customer to access returns policies online.
Monk-Chipman added: “If brand loyalty is the dream, then an awesome customer returns experience can absolutely influence repeat purchase decisions. But many of the top brands are still missing a trick here. The return journey begins online, long before you buy something and try it on. That’s what our research is all about – transforming the way the ecommerce industry thinks about returns and getting retailers to re-examine their own focus on customer."


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