Online Product Returns Concept

Are Online Shoppers Willing To Pay for Returns? A New Survey May Surprise You


A new survey from Loop Returns reveals some interesting trends that may surprise online merchants as they are tackling the influx of holiday season returns.

Loop Returns is a returns logistics solution that specializes in providing Shopify merchants with an easy and automated way to manage returns.

This week, a regulatory filing shows they have raised another $50 million in funding to fuel the growth of their returns management solution for Shopify merchants, which Loop Returns says can help merchants turn returns from a cost center to a profit center.

Ever since Amazon began offering free and easy returns and expanding the feature to millions of products, online shoppers have been looking at return policies as a factor in their purchase decision. Many large online brands and retailers merchants have followed suit, leaving smaller merchants in the dust.

This is where Loop Return tries to level the playing field by giving smaller online merchants the tools to offer the same returns experience as they have become to expect.

While free returns have dominated the conversation in ecommerce, it’s the total returns experience that may be more important to shoppers.

New data from Loop Returns found that shoppers value premium experiences and are willing to pay for them. The survey was conducted in December 2022, asking 1,000 U.S. online shoppers to offer their views on returns. And here are the surprising results.

  • 70% of shoppers are willing to pay for more convenient, premium return experiences.
  • 51% of shoppers are willing to pay between $1 and $5 for those return experiences.
  • 98% of shoppers agreed premium return experiences encourage repeat purchases.
  • 88% of shoppers agreed eco-friendly return options make them more likely to shop again.
  • 73% of shoppers regularly review an online merchant’s return policy to gauge their sustainability levels.

“They [shoppers] expect convenient, premium return experiences. They expect sustainable return options. And they expect benefits like exchanges, store credit, at-home pickup, and much more. They’ve raised the bar,” said Loop Returns summarizing the study.

Returns Drive Sales

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), nearly 18% of online and physical retailers expected merchandise sold during the 2022 holiday season to be returned.

Product return policies and experiences cannot be ignored, even by the smallest online merchants, as having an easy and simple return policy drives sales. Amazon proves that, other big brands prove that, and study after study proves that.

But this new survey offers insights and hope that online returns are not just about free returns, but about the entire returns experience.

And if online merchants are still not convinced it is all about “free returns,” DoorDash last week launched a new service enabling busy consumers to pay for picking up returns from their homes.

With that in mind, moving into the slower sales months for many ecommerce sellers, now is a good time to experiment with new return strategies before heading into the next holiday shopping season.

Free returns are good, but the overall experience matters more, and shoppers may be willing to pay for a better experience, if offered.

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