ZigZag Global: Returns set to be more valuable than sales for retailers
In the second half of last year nearly 80% of UK consumers checked a retailer’s return policies before making a purchase and that 42% then decided not to buy an item because of it, according to research by ZigZag Global.
ZigZag has published insights from The Retail Returns Study, to help the industry understand the impact of returns policies on sales and client retention and how UK consumer attitudes towards returns have evolved after a year of lockdowns.
“With one third of consumers purchasing an item with the intention of returning – rising to over 40% for younger shoppers – the hurdles of retail returns need to be removed, returns need to be made easier for customers and retailers alike,” says Al Gerrie, Founder and CEO of ZigZag Global. “It’s about reducing cost, waste and friction associated with returns through automated, technology-first solutions that allow retailers to be more profitable and sustainable, which in turn will drive long-term customer loyalty.”
The research identified the top three reasons that makes a returns policy be considered good. Free returns ranks first according to 78% of respondents, followed by fast refunds and not needing to print a label according to 66% and 45% respectively. Tracking items through the process and having multiple options of how to return an item were the other two essential factors that come to almost every other UK consumers’ mind when defining if a returns policy is good enough.
Returning an item to the Post office is still the prefered method of returns for 48% of consumers, while 46% prefer booking a courier to collect an item from home. Offering convenient options is so important that in fact one in every four online shoppers are willing to pay more for a premium return service such as collection from home. That number is even higher across the younger generation aged between 18-25 years old where over a third (36%) would be willing to pay for it.
While a poor returns experience would make 59% of shoppers not come back and buy another item, an easy returns policy would encourage 81% of consumers to shop again with that retailer. It is not difficult to see how important returns are in turning one-time buyers into loyal customers and that is not as difficult as it might sound as almost 80% of shoppers believe that retailers can do a better job by simply making it easier for consumers to return items bought online.
Worries about environmental impact of returns are increasing in the UK as 43% of buyers would choose a greener or more sustainable return option even if that slows the refund process. Younger ages are more likely to consider a more sustainable policy with half of people aged between 18 and 34 years old opting for a greener option even if it meant a slower refund compared to just 36% of 56 – 65 year olds and 31% of those aged 66+.