High Streets Initiative

Poor quality online goods are costing retailers billions in product returns

David Craik | 19 October 2018 | 6 years ago

Returns on Takeback Tuesday are set to reach double the daily average

UK retailers are wasting billions of pounds each year because shoppers are fed up with the quality of online goods, new findings have revealed.

A new report from technology firm inRiver revealed that for some of the UK’s largest retailers the cost of servicing online return products has spiralled to almost 60bn a year.

This is because, the report adds, nearly a quarter of consumers (22%) said that products they buy online rarely meet their expectations forcing them to return the goods.

It found that 94% of online shoppers said that product information is important or critical to their purchasing decisions. However, only 11% said the products they order online are always what they expect them to be. It said that “misleading or incomplete product information or specifications often cause a huge disconnect between consumers? expectations and the actual product”.

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Culture of returns could kill off small ecommerce businesses in 2018

Retailers feel unprotected by the law and believe shoppers have begun to exploit new consumer rights introduced in the past five years.

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Of the 22% of consumers who said the products that they buy online rarely meet their expectations, nearly half will usually or always return items.

costly online returns drive profits into the ground for many retailers, forcing prices up on product, delivery or service, said Thor Johnson, CEO of inRiver.

rich, accurate product information alongside ample consumer reviews help products match customers? expectations.Brands and retailers displaying enriched product information in context with video, images and compelling copy create more realistic impressions in the minds of their customer while reducing returns and downstream costs.

A third of respondents said videos that show products in different contexts are most helpful in their buying decision.

Almost one fifth said they wanted to see products demonstrated by influencers. The impact of influencer marketing rises to 28% among 18-24-year olds. YouTube is the most trusted platform for video information about products followed by Facebook.

The survey also found that 41% of online shoppers will not consult another online store if all the information they need is provided in the first shop they visit. But one third will move to another website within 10 seconds if general product information is lacking.

The most commonly searched for information are price comparisons, general product information and reviews. ‘shoppers will “abandon” their virtual shopping cart instantly and turn to another retailer to make the purchase if images, information on availability or information on pricing are missing.

Johnson added: Consumers are dismissive of brands and retailers who do not instantly deliver the information they need. Adding a limited number of pictures to the general product information is no longer good enough.

“Consumers? expectations have increased, and they want to see products in context, as they would in-store, to give them the confidence to buy. Good product information is essential in turning browsers into buyers.

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A guide to product returns and the consumer contract for online retailers

As an ecommerce business, its crucial to get your product returns policy right. Here, Grid Law founder David Walker considers the consumer contract from an online retail perspective.

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