These 10 Statistics on Ecommerce Returns Paint the Full Picture

 In Ecommerce, Post-Purchase, Product Returns

Statistics, they are everywhere and cover anything and everything you can think of. Handled improperly returns can become a plague for an online retailer. Industry leaders are using creative solutions to combat the not-so-small problem of returns.

Here are the top statistics on ecommerce returns highlighting their progress that you should know as an ecommerce retailer. Hopefully, this insight will help identify weaknesses in your process and possible solutions so you can reduce ecommerce post-holiday returns and the overall rate of products being returned.


1. 48% of online shoppers say they returned an online purchase in the last 12 months.

Returns are inevitable. If you are purchasing items online, eventually you’re going to have to make a return. This fact is why having an easy to understand, hassle-free returns process is critical.

2. Between 15% to 40% of online purchases are returned.

The rate of purchases returned falls between 15% to 40%. Despite this, a high rate of returns and leniency in a return policy is an expected part of ecommerce. Ensuring the customer knows they can get their money back as easy as they spend it will empower them to make another purchase during the return process padding your businesses bottom-line.

3. U.S. return delivery costs were estimated at $550 billion in 2020.

According to Statista, losses incurred on returns surged in 2020 to $550 billion, reinforcing the need of a hassle-free returns policy. Customer retention and secondary purchases will help your ecommerce business avoid these losses. With returns doubling over the past 3 years, putting a growth marketing and retention plan in place has never been more important than now.

4. Over 60% of customers bracketed their purchases in 2020.

Bracketing continues to be a common practice among online shoppers as 60% of customers bracketed their purchases in 2020. Bracketing is the practice of purchasing multiple items, trying them out and returning those that do not fit. Returns are unavoidable from these customers. To avoid losses making sure your returns process is as enjoyable as possible will guarantee they make additional purchases.

5. On average a return represents 30% of the purchase price.

It typically costs around $15 to return an item which may require a retailer to sell more to cover the cost of a single return. In fact, Total Retail says the average return accounts for 30% of the purchase price adding to the necessity of an efficient ecommerce shipping software solution.

6. Apparel still held the highest return rate of 21% in 2020.

21% may seem high but is much less than apparel returns were in 2017, which were a whopping 43%. The issue with clothing and footwear is it does not always appear or fit the way it appears online. Retailers got creative to cut down on apparel returns with the introduction of AI assisted virtual changing rooms and building customer profiles based on return statistics. What’s this mean? Through innovation and tools provided by an ecommerce shipping software, solutions are achievable that benefit both the consumer and retailer.

7. 49% of customers state they take the time to read the return policy before making a purchase.

Reasonable, flexible, easy to find, easily understood and hassle-free are what customers expect when it comes to a return policy. A good return policy will give customers the confidence to conduct business with your company.

8. 40% of retailers say they have adjusted their return policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has created an unprecedented, unique set of circumstances that have left the world’s supply chain reeling. Sweeping industry policy changes have been made since the start of the pandemic including the hiring of a larger workforce and increasing warehouse capacity.

Despite the growth in logistics the booming growth of online sales is outpacing shipping capabilities. In a recent article, Amazon stated that the “pandemic effect on returns” — e.g. the cost of labor and fulfillment — could wipe-out holiday profits for the ecommerce giant. Transparency and the ability of customers to initiate their own returns will speed up the process, save on customer service costs and allow customers to see progress of their return.

9. 42% of shoppers expect free returns.

Online shopping is quickly becoming the preferred method of shopping. Brick and mortar stores have realized this with the introduction of curb-side pickup and home delivery offered by mega retailers such as Walmart. Customers will always seek the best, most convenient option and expect their shopping experience to be taken seriously.

Free returns are a major draw for customers looking to make an online purchase. According to UPS 42% of shoppers want free returns. As an ecommerce retailer, if possible, offering free returns will give your business a competitive edge in securing crucial sales.

10. 73% of shoppers say the overall returns experience will determine if they purchase from a retailer again.

Customer retention is vital to an ecommerce retailer’s success. From a report issued by MarketingProfs it costs five times more to find new customers than retain and cultivate current shoppers. With 73% of customers saying the overall return experience will factor in if they will purchase from a retailer again, making sure your return process is the best it possibly can be is crucial.

Summing it All Up

These statistics on ecommerce returns reinforces the need for an ecommerce shipping software solution with robust capabilities. Returns are only one small component that shipping software handles. Ecommerce shipping software can solve a wide range of issues and provides all the tools and services to setup your online business for success.

Need Even More Tips?

We’ve got you covered with the only guide you’ll ever need to help manage, prevent and reduce returns. Learn what the pros do by reading our Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Returns.

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