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Three Reasons Why Online Shoppers Return Orders

There are three main reasons why online shoppers return goods, according to UK postal service Royal Mail. The number one reason for returns: poor fit. The postal service research also found that 20% of those who returned an item purchased online over a six month period did so because the quality was not what they expected.

Researchers also found that over one in ten online shoppers (12%) have returned online purchases because they look different to the pictures they saw online.

Royal Mail pointed to the “the dress” syndrome where some people saw a photograph of a dress that had been posted online as white and gold, while others saw it as blue and black. If you didn’t see it, take a look at the Wikipedia entry (viral phenomenon) – chances are some sellers may have sent the article to buyers who felt misled by photographs of products they’d purchased to show that color perceptions can greatly vary.

The survey also found that half of online shoppers who had returned an order did so within three days of receiving the item. That may not be the experience for all merchants, given frequent complaints that surface in industry discussion boards where many sellers say buyers abuse returns policies.

Royal Mail Parcels’s Managing Director Nick Landon said, “The ease of returning an item is a key part of a customer’s overall online shopping experience. We know from talking to online shoppers that a large number of people read the returns policy before deciding where to buy.” And he said Royal Mail has worked hard to offer a solution through its Returns Portal and Tracked Returns products that meets both the buyer and the seller’s needs.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.