A recent survey by courier price comparison site ParcelHero revealed at least 200 e-commerce businesses in the UK don’t expect to survive the massive growth in returns forecast for this year.
Returns accounted for 47% of all ParcelHero shipments in the first days of the new year and traders say that they were often pressured into paying the cost of returns even for unwanted items or risk losing their all-important five-star ratings.
Shoppers are now keenly aware of their right to return any unwanted items bought online, under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 14-day cooling off period. And half of all consumers now expect the same free returns that apply to damaged items to be given on unwanted items or they will shop elsewhere. But is this fair, or could it break some of our favorite specialist online stores?
David Jinks, head of consumer research, ParcelHero, said, “It’s all very well for the likes of Amazon to swallow return costs; but they can literally make or break small traders. Whether they are selling online, or a traditional brick and mortar shop, it’s important for small retailers to know what they do and don’t have to offer when it comes to accepting returned goods.
“The final nail in the coffin for small online retailers may be that 8% of shoppers now admit to returning items several times a month,” added Jinks. “And customers pushing the boundaries of the latest regulations mean it is difficult for retailers to prevent ‘wardrobing’: using an item once for a specific purpose and then returning it.”
The new guide from ParcelHero looks at important aspects of the returns process such as the differences between the Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Consumer Rights Act; what sellers can do if items are returned in less than perfect condition; the rules over personalized or customized items being returned; and if traders can offer a voucher instead of a full refund.
The Dealing with Customer Returns guide is free to download here.
February 26, 2018