June 5, 2012, 10:52 AM

Take it back, please

63% of online shoppers check a retailer’s returns policy before clicking to buy.

Lead Photo

The chore of returning products to online retailers is on the minds of most online shoppers, with 63% of consumers checking out a web retailer’s returns policy before making an online purchase, according to a study by comScore Inc. commissioned by shipping carrier UPS.

The “Online Shopping Customer Experience Study” is based on a survey of more than 3,100 U.S. online shoppers in February and information gathered during a consumer focus group conducted on Jan. 12.

The study also found that 48% of consumers would shop more often with an online retailer that offers a lenient returns policy, and that 48% would be more likely to recommend such a retailer to a friend.

In addition, the study found that at least 42% of online shoppers have abandoned online shopping carts because of long estimated delivery times. It adds that two thirds of online shoppers choose the least expensive shipping option, more than 40% expect to see the availability of delivery within two or three days, and nearly a third expect the option of overnight shipping. It notes that 48% are not willing to wait more than five days for packages to arrive.

UPS, the most commonly used shipping carrier among the retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, with 145 clients, will present additional results of the study June 6 at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago. The results cover multiple areas of online shopping.

Following are the percentages of study respondents who cited specific online shopping features as among their two most satisfying:

● Ease of checkout, 83%

● Variety of brands/products, 82%

● Online order tracking, 79%

● Free/discounted shipping, 74%

● Number of shipping options, 74%

● Ability to create an online account, 74%

● Clear returns policy, 70%

● Ease of making returns/exchanges, 65%

● Availability of live customer service, 61%

● Flexibility to choose delivery date, 58%

● Flexibility to re-route packages, 57%

Following are the percentages of respondents citing online shopping feature they most want improved:

● Free/discounted shipping, 58%

● Ease of returns/exchanges, 42%

● Variety of brands/products, 38%

● Online order tracking, 38%

● Availability of live customer service, 36%

● Ease of check-out, 34%

● Clear returns policy, 33%

● Flexibility of delivery options, 29%

● Number of shipping options, 28%

● Ability to create an account, 26%

● Carbon-neutral shipping option, 23%

Among sessions on fulfillment systems and strategies at the Internet Retailer 2012 Conference & Exhibition will be one titled “The free shipping tightrope,” by Paul D’Arrigo, co-founder and vice president, marketing, of online retailer Unique Squared Inc., and John Haber, founder and CEO of Spend Management Experts.

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