Online returns set to skyrocket in the New Year

Sian Bradley's picture
by Sian Bradley
Online returns are predicted to increase by 80 per cent

Online returns of unwanted christmas buys are predicted to hit an all time high this January, figures show.

According to Royal Mail, returns of online purchases are expected to increase by 80 per cent compared to the average number of return parcels per day in December.

Today is known as “Takeback Wednesday”, as it is the day that most people return ill-fitting Christmas presents. But the trend is expected to continue throughout the first month of 2019. A spokesperson from Royal Mail said: “January is the busiest time of year for returns. Having an easy way to return online purchases is a crucial part of the online shopping experience. For retailers, ensuring their returns experience is in line with consumers’ expectations is incredibly important.

“With 17 per cent of global retailers already adopting a ‘try before you buy’ model, it’s important to consider putting try before you buy at the heart of your returns offering – and staying one step ahead of your competitors when it comes to customer satisfaction,” he added.

Returns are booming 

The Royal Mail's annual Delivery Matters report states that six in ten (60 per cent) online shoppers will not use a retailer again if they have a difficult returns experience, which means it's crucial to get them right.

The average online shopper in the UK also sends back an online purchase every month, with over half saying that the most common reason they return items is because they don’t fit.

The most commonly returned items are clothing (75 per cent), electrical goods (42 per cent) and computer software/hardware (33 per cent). Women are more likely to return something because the item is not what they expected, whereas men are more likely to return a non-clothing item because it’s incompatible or not useful for its intended purpose.

This costs retailers millions in revenue each year. A ‘try before you buy’ service could help eliminate the losses; as two in five shoppers (40 per cent) believe they would purchase more items if a retailer offered such a service.