How the Returns Process Works for Online Retailers [Infographic]

Matt Zajechowski 3m 784

The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments on this website are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of Confessions of the Professions thereof. By reading the following article, you do not hold responsible Confessions of the Professions or any contributing authors for the content of this confession. Viewer Discretion is Advised.

Read This Confession To Me

E-Commerce Retailers and Return Process

Store Return Policy

Most online retailers fail to realize that the number one reason that in-store-only shopping refuse to buy online is because of the returns process. Most online retailers are expected to see huge sales this holiday shopping season, however most are not prepared to properly handle online returns in a way that keeps their customers or potential customers happy. Fortunately, Shorr Packaging has put together a useful guide and infographic that covers returns best practices for e-commerce retailers.

The guide and infographic covers in detail the importance of making online returns easy for consumers, what customers want when processing online returns, how to reduce return rates along with some general best practices for online returns. Some interesting stats covered in the guide is that 85% of customers will not do repeat business with a company if returns are complicated or inconvenient whereas 95% of customers will do repeat business if the returns process is easy. This shows how big of an importance that consumers place on a no-frills return process.

Online retailers can reduce return rates by addressing the major reasons why customers return products. The biggest reason for returns is that the product is not what they expected. Other major return reasons are the product did not fit properly and the wrong item being delivered or it arrived damaged. Make sure you go out of your way to address any returns problems your online business is facing and make the returns process as easy as possible for your customers. To learn more check out the infographic below.

How the Returns Process Works for Online Retailers [Infographic]

Click to open / Right-click for save options

PDF Version

Text-Friendly Version


Projected E-commerce Sales $64.7 Billion

Projected E-commerce Returns $19.4 Billion

$965 billion will be spent in the holiday shopping season, according to Deloitte. Online orders typically represent 6.7% of total retail sales, but this holiday season, e-commerce return rates are projected to EXCEED 30%.


Return rates are significantly lower for bricks-and-mortar retailers – averaging 8.89% in 2014.

Bricks-and-Mortar Retail Return Rates

  • Auto Parts 18.26%
  • Home Improvement 11.17%
  • Apparel 9.96%
  • Footwear 9.13%
  • Sporting Goods 8.96%
  • Children’s Apparel 8.62%
  • Beauty 5.24%

“The Returns Process” Is The Number One Reason In-Store-Only Shoppers Refuse To Buy Online

85% of customers will not do repeat business with a company returns are complicated or inconvenient.

95% of customers will do repeat business if the returns process is easy.

Retail Sales by Channel

While e-commerce has grown rapidly, bricks-and-mortar sales still account for around 90% of all retail sales.

In-Store Sales $868.5 Billion

E-commerce Sales $64.65 Billion

Mail Order / Catalog $31.85 Billion

2 out of 3 shoppers would buy more from e-commerce stores if returns were free.

Companies asking customers to pay for return shipping see sales decrease 74-100%.

When companies introduce free returns, they typically see a 58-357% increase in sales over the succeeding two years.

What Customers Want When Processing Online Returns

  • 62% of customers want A Return Label in the Box
  • 61% want Easy-To-Print Return Labels
  • 57% want Automatic Refunds
  • 51% want Free Return Shipping
  • 47% An Easy-To-Follow Procedure

Reduce Return Rates By Addressing The Major Reasons Customers Return Products

Problem #1

25% of returns: “The product was not what I expected”

-3% The reduction in returns for when shoppers view a product video.

-20.4% The different in returns for PETCO on products that have been reviewed.

Problem #2

17% of returns: “My product did not fit properly”

-50% The decline in return rates ASOS has achieved by introducing a sizing app, which compares items shoppers are viewing to those they already own.

Problem #3

16% of returns: “I had the wrong item delivered”

-74.7% The reduction in returns for Drs. Foster and Smith after they introduced paperless scanners to prevent error during the pick-and-pack process.

Problem #4

5% of returns: “My product arrived damaged”

58% of Americans say that if they receive a damaged or broken product from an online order, they would either consider purchasing from a competitor or would not purchase from the retailer again.

52% said they are likely to make repeat purchases from an online retailer that delivers orders in premium packaging.

40% of E-Commerce Customers Have Kept a Purchase They Don’t Want Because Returning Is Too Inconvenient

Most customers make returns 2-3 days before the end of the return window.

Having an extended return is a strong trust signal.

When clothing retailer 3rd Power Outlet extended their return policy from 14 to 90 days, they both decreased returns and increased purchases.

63% of American consumers check the returns policy before making a purchase and 48% would shop more with online retailers that offer hassle-free returns.

Have a clear, concise return policy that can be easily accessed on your website.

The main points customers care most about in return policies are:

  • What is the return window
  • Will they receive a full refund or store credit
  • Who is responsible for shipping costs

shorr |packaging corp.



Leave A Thought