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The survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive, polled 3,036 adults in the United States ages 18 or over in December 2012 (2,839 of which indicated they shop online). The results revealed negative economic consequences for retailers not offering free return shipping with 81 percent of online shoppers saying they are not likely to make additional purchases from websites that charge shipping on returns and 69 percent feeling that returning items purchased online is a complicated process.
This follows on the findings of a September 2012 study from Washington and Lee University, which contrasted the effect of paid or free return shipping on consumer behavior. Researchers tracked actual consumer spending over the course of four years and found that retailers' return shipping policies greatly affected customer spending and loyalty. Customers paying for their own returns universally decreased their spending, between 75 percent and 100 percent at that retailer by the end of two years after the return. In contrast, customers who received free return shipping universally increased their spending with that retailer between 158 percent and 457 percent.
Aside from consumer demands around returns, with the increasing prevalence of mobile devices, the ShopRunner survey also found that 67 percent of online shoppers would purchase more online from their mobile device or computer if they could use the same secure, easy check-out procedure across all websites.
With respect to choosing to buy online versus in retail stores, these shoppers showed that they value fast delivery and 77 percent would spend more online and less in stores if free 1- to 2-day shipping was offered. Additionally, having more and faster free shipping options would drive 65 percent of shoppers to procrastinate and put off making purchases longer than usual.
"These results demonstrate a huge opportunity for retailers to increase sales by meeting the increasing consumer demands for online shopping. including free and easy returns, fast delivery, and streamlined checkout," said Fiona Dias, chief strategy officer of ShopRunner. "The bar has been raised by competitors, but it is challenging for most retailers to cost-effectively offer these shopping benefits on their own."
With its expanding suite of services, ShopRunner helps retailers address online shopping pain points by leveraging the power of a cooperative network of 70 retailers.
For complete survey results and methodology, including weighting variables, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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