Biggest Opportunity for Online Retailers? Improving Returns

Improving returns represents the biggest opportunity for online retailers according to comScore’s Online Shopping Customer Experience Study.

While 86% of consumers are satisfied with the overall online shopping experience, according to the study, retailers can enhance their operations by making the process of returning or exchanging items easier.

“The prominence of returns stood out in the study,” David Sisco, director of retail marketing for UPS, said.

In fact, 63% of survey respondents said they look at a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase and nearly half indicated they’d shop more often and recommend a retailer who has a lenient returns policy.

Hassle-free returns and exchanges rank above average in terms of importance for shoppers, but rank low in terms of customer satisfaction.
Free shipping, while still important to consumers, doesn’t hold the same importance it had in recent years, according to the study.

“While free shipping has tended to dominate the discussion regarding what provides satisfaction to online shoppers, the study shows there are several other factors critical to a positive online shopping experience,” comScore director Susan Kleinman said.

A foremost concern among consumers is the desire to know when a package will be delivered, according to Kleinman. “Some companies won’t provide an estimated delivery date at all.”

The bottom line is two out of every five online shoppers abandon their shopping carts due to delivery timing estimates. Consumers currently are most satisfied with the ease of checking out, the variety of brands and products available and online delivery tracking ability. But they’re least satisfied with the current level of flexibility in choosing delivery dates.

While two-thirds of shoppers choose the most inexpensive shipping option, more than 40% expect to see the availability of 2-3 day delivery and nearly a third want the option to choose overnight shipping. The need for speed is also important, with 48% of online shoppers not willing to wait more than 5 days for packages to be delivered. One third of shoppers said they most often choose to pay a fee for faster delivery.

Online shoppers also said they value having tracking capabilities to know when their packages would arrive – 46% of respondents said receiving their orders when expected would lead them to recommend an online retailer.

comScore surveyed more than 3,100 U.S. online shoppers in February.

Jim Tierney ( is a senior writer for Multichannel Merchant. You can connect with him on Twitter (TierneyMCM) and LinkedIn, or call him at 203-358-4265.

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