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Consumer Returns Pose Mounting Problem for Retailers

21 May 2020 - 19:37 by David Aiken

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On average consumers from the UK send back products work around £5.2 billion every year, with the hammering of retailer returns policies likely to escalate further as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

This is according to a new study published by Openpay, which found that over a tenth of shoppers deliberately choose to over-order when using safe shopping online with the express intention of sending back a proportion of the products that turn up at their door.

Internet Retailing reports that this trend is clearly a costly inconvenience for e-commerce sites, as well as being wasteful and environmentally problematic because of the carbon emissions associated with making returns and the fact that many returned items cannot then be sold on again.

In spite of this state of affairs, a good returns policy is an expectation that consumers want to see from the retailers they shop with. Almost a third of people questioned in the survey said that it was important for them to be able to return products with ease and that this would be a deciding factor when choosing which sites to use.

Researchers delved further into this issue by attempting to pinpoint what is actually causing people to over-order and ultimately return goods, with social media services such as Instagram being blamed for the proliferation of this trend.

Because of the way that social media is used to constantly push advertisements into the feeds of consumers, there is an increased pressure on people to buy, buy, buy, even if they have no need or desire for the product in question.

Clearly, this is an issue that needs to be tackled not only be retailers themselves but also by regulators, since it is younger consumers that are especially susceptible to impulse-buying spurred on by social media.