Build a Trusted Brand

Serial returners, white lies, and more: consumer insights around returns and what they mean for your business

Friday, December 8, 2023
ecommerce hat

Returns and refunds are typically frustrating for everyone involved.

For shoppers, they mean delays in getting the correct version of what you actually purchased, delays in getting your money back, and disappointment when an item isn’t what you had hoped it would be. 

For ecommerce businesses and retailers, they can represent a logistical nightmare and a costly endeavor. So how do you minimize returns and the mishaps that cause them in the first place? 

We surveyed US consumers to learn more about their feelings on returns and refunds, why they return items in the first place, and what they expect when they do. Here are our top takeaways that can help you improve your ecommerce business. 

Returns and refunds takeaways

Trust among return services and their ability to work quickly remains low 

When asked which return services they trusted the least to get their returns and refunds processed the fastest, they said:

  • 45% said third party courier service 

  • 42% said Amazon returns dropbox/lockers

  • 41% said happy returns drop locations

  • 41% said USPS 

  • 39% said Uber returns service 

A good portion of US consumers would consider purchasing items, using them more than once, and then trying to return them post-season to save money. 

  • 48% said they would do this with Food & Beverage

  • 46% said Gift wrapping

  • 46% said cooking and baking supplies

  • 46% said gifts they bought for themselves

  • 45% said decorations. 

Only 14% said they would never use something more than once and return it. 

Some US consumers are not shy about retail lies

When asked which online shopping infractions US consumers would consider doing to save money:

  • 49% said they’d lie to customer service about not receiving an entire package so they could receive a second one free of charge

  • 45% said lie to a retailer about a missing item in their shipment to get a second one for free

  • 44% said tell their credit card company a purchase they made was fraudulent

17% said they would never consider making an online shopping infraction to save money.

Consumers go into the holiday season expecting to make a significant amount of returns 

Of the products/gifts they purchase this holiday season, 30% of US consumers expect to return 21-30% of their purchases and 18% expect to return 31-40% of their purchases (due to things like deciding on a different gift, ending up missing a party with a gift swap, etc).

Free returns are a must

49% of US consumers say they will not shop from a brand/retailer that does not offer free returns. 

Consumers are willing to make sacrifices if it guarantees them free returns 

In terms of sacrifices they would make to guarantee free returns:

  • 46% say they would wait in line more than 30 minutes to drop off a return

  • 43% say they would travel more than 30 minutes to drop off a return

Consumers will order additional items to hit the threshold for free shipping on a purchase

To order additional items just to hit a threshold of free shipping for orders:

  • 19% are willing to spend an additional $21-$30

  • 26% are willing to spend an extra $31-$40

  • 19% are willing to spend an additional $41-$50

Nearly half of consumers who spend enough to hit the minimum for free shipping frequently return the “extra” items they bought to hit the threshold

25% said they always do this and 36% said they often do this

Your return policy has a big impact on how trustworthy consumers perceive your brand to be

When asked how much of an influence does a retailer’s returns policy have on how trustworthy they perceive that retailer to be, 26% said a big influence, 51% said somewhat of an influence, and only 4% said no influence at all. 

Serial returners are somewhat common in the US 

When asked if they’d ever been a serial returner (someone who tends to buy and return a significant amount of purchases): 

  • 35% said they were currently serial returners

  • 30% said they used to be serial returners

  • 29% said they had never been a serial returner

Introduction of returns fees, environmental concerns, and waiting for their money back were the most common reasons why ex serial returners had stopped

When asked why they were no longer serial returners:

  • 55% said they didn’t like being out of pocket while they waited for their money back

  • 47% said they were concerned about the impact on the planet

  • 47% said the introduction of returns fees

There are a variety of factors consumers look for with return policies

When asked what they looked for in a retailer’s returns policy: 

  • 51% said minimum return period of 28-30 days

  • 50% said convenient return locations

  • 49% said return locations that are open 24/7

  • 48% said free returns

Takeaways for your ecommerce business

  • Trust when it comes to return services is very low and the better you can do in this apartment, the more you’ll stand out to your customers

  • Free returns are a must if you don’t want to alienate a good portion of your customer base

  • Your “spend X to get free shipping” policies may not be working as intended

  • Having a straightforward and clear return policies can help you win trust with your customers and build a more trustworthy brand

Building trust is what we’re here for. Learn more about how this US retailer partnered with Trustpilot to build trust with their customers and increased ROI in the process


Related stories