Brands risk losing customers after a bad returns experience

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New research released by Klarna has revealed that over eight in ten (84%) online shoppers would turn their back on a retailer after a bad returns experience.

It’s no secret that in an attempt to avoid the Coronavirus people flocked online to do their shopping. Klarna’s data reveals that 39% of consumers have increased their online shopping habits since the pandemic which brings with it, increased reliance on returns and depending on how brands handle it, an increased risk of a bad returns experience.

With many big brands continuously expanding on their customer experience offerings and providing efficient and speedy services, the expectations of consumers begin to change. It’s clear that consumers expect brands to go above and beyond when they have a problem and when demand is high for the smoothest experience possible and some brands offering it without hesitation they begin to expect that across the board. Expectations can be the reason for patience depleting fast and frustrations rising quickly.

Consumers expect easy returns:

Consumers’ patience is waning when it comes to clunky or costly returns processes. 83% of online shoppers admit to getting frustrated by retailers which have an inefficient returns process, while 82% agree that retailers, in general, need to improve their returns capabilities.

Some of Brits’ biggest frustrations with returns stem from the inconvenience of slow, out of date or inflexible returns processes. Over a third (36%) cited slow refund processes as the most frustrating element of returning items bought online, highlighting the importance of flexible payment options. Other frustrations include having to print off return forms when they don’t have a printer (25%), the inconvenience of queuing to return at the post office (23%) and not being able to return items in store that they’ve bought online (21%). Some consumers will even keep an item they want to return because it is too much effort to return it, which also means they may avoid buying again from brands that don’t meet their needs.

Boost customer loyalty with easy returns

For those brands that get returns right, this can serve as a competitive advantage, helping to attract new customers, and boost customer loyalty. 84% of online shoppers agree they’re more likely to buy from and 86% are more likely to come back to online merchants who offer free returns. However, even a little added inconvenience can come at a cost: over two thirds (70%) of online shoppers state that if a preferred retailer stopped offering free returns, they might not shop with them.

“Nobody wants to be out of pocket as a result of items they don’t even choose to keep, so it’s no surprise that slow refund processes are the top frustration factor when it comes to returns. As reliance on returns grows, retailers need to ensure they’re offering a smooth, seamless process that meets the needs of today’s customers – considering everything from effortless logistics to flexible payment options. As our research suggests, those that fail to adapt will lose customers in the long term.”
– Alex Marsh, Head of Klarna UK

3 Responses

  1. All very well…. but not always as easy as you think.
    Recently had a customer buy an expensive item with his CC via paypal. He returned it as wrong item and everything was fine. However, as he had paid via CC, it took over a week for the return to get to him. He was not happy. Luckily i was able to show him proof that we had actioned it on the same day as it came back and it was the payment system that was slow. This is the same with any CC and i have even experienced it in shops.
    People simply expect a refund to be instant in all cases. Nothing the retailer can do. We were lucky and the buyer was very understanding and infact grateful; for our efforts to look into it and advise him of what was happening.
    Returns… Well yes…. you bought it online and the seller arranged for it to get to you. Now you want to send it back buy don’t want to have to do anything. Boo hoo. Have we got so lazy as a society that everything must be done for us? Often there are several options to return…. via post office – don’t want to have to go out to one. Via a courier – don’t want to have to wait in for one. Via any other way that involves any effort – nope, someone should come and pack, label and collect it from my lounge, when i say so…..
    Sadly this is what you get when the big retailers fall over backwards to out do eachother regardless of cost. Hell, they proberly got free delivery in the first place!
    So yes a retailer should offer as much convenience as they can reasonably do so, but there is a line where sometimes you have to get off your lazy ass and do something to.
    I think that there will come a point when retailers all start pushing back, the costs are simply not substainable. It is either that or prices rise alot to pay for it all…. then the price moans will start.
    …in the meantime, will the many customers that buy stuff and then fail to be around for delivery 3 times in a row, and then complain that they have to go and get it, please think before online shopping.

  2. customers expect easy returns !
    well golly gosh were a business ,we expect to make a profit !

  3. Customers also seem to think that they can demand free returns (or even just a straight out refund) after they have damaged an item themselves through carelessness or rough handling.


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