UK consumers may shop elsewhere if retailers start charging for online returns

Some 60% of UK consumers would consider shopping elsewhere if retailers start introducing fees to return online orders, according to a new report by UserTesting.

The findings follow the decision by retailers such as Zara and Boohoo to start charging a fee to customers who return items online, at a time of rampant inflation and an ongoing cost of living crisis.

The research reveals that 70% of women believe companies are charging for returns to “discourage customers from over-ordering or ordering multiple sizes.” Meanwhile, 80% of men thought the policies were to “recoup costs from postage and processing returns.”

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In addition, ReBound, the platform that helps ASOS manage its returns, revealed that 74% of consumers admit to buying multiple sizes with the intention of returning, while 64% purchase multiple colours.

Despite such frustrations, consumers are increasingly conscious about the impact of their returns on the environment.

ReBound discovered that 69% of consumers are happy to pay for returns if the money is used to subsidise more environmentally-friendly return options. A further 48% were also willing to pay an extra 50p per return, while just 22% said they’d pay more than £1.

“With a number of retailers introducing return fees, there’s a need to consider how these changes are being communicated to customers, especially when the public is facing rising inflation,” UserTesting chief insights officer Janelle Estes said.

“Retailers want to ensure there’s no miscommunication around these practices.

“We discovered 90% of people are more inclined to purchase with free returns, showing just how risky this policy can be for retailers when their rationale is not clearly explained and in line with their customers’ preferences and values. In this economic climate, it’s important that retailers mitigate the risks of introducing new fees and charges.”



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