Online Customer Return Statistics
The numbers don’t lie, customers return products 2 to 3
times more often when they purchase online than when they purchase at a
physical retail store.  You would think
this number to be the opposite with the extra cost of return shipping but due
to most online retailers accepting this burden, the statistics show online
returns are greater. Customer returns at a physical retail store run about 8.9%
on average.  This statistic has remained
steady over the years. Customer returns for online retail stores run between 20%
and 30% depending on the product category and the time of year with a large
spike after Christmas.
We buy customer returns and repair Amazon FBA customer returns


Returnuary – For online retailers is January due to the large spike in customer returns they receive within 30 days after Christmas.

Why do Online Retailers Get More Returns?

There are many reasons why online retailers get more returns
than physical brick and mortar stores get, some reasons are more obvious than
others. One of the most obvious reasons that online retailers get
more returns is because the customer can’t physically touch or hold the item.  This fact is one the biggest drawbacks from
being an online retailer versus having a physical location retailer. Another important reason online retailers get more returns
than physical brick and mortar retailers is that in most cases, the online retailer
provides less information to the potential buyer than provided in a physical
store. This is mostly due to the information provided on a retail
box about the item inside.  There are multiple
photos, unique benefits of the item and reasons to buy this item over other similar
items.  Online retailers are accustomed
to only provide a subset of this type of information in the form of 5 bullet
points and a few photos of the product.
Also, many online retail products  are sold in a brown box without additional
marketing material to “convince the buyer” to buy the item. Sometimes the online retailer does not provide enough photos
of the product or even bad photos not clearly demonstrating the size, color or functions
of the item in question.  Therefore, bad
photos can also be a reason online retailer get higher customer returns than
traditional retailers. For some products where size or color is a key factor such
as shoes and apparel, the online retailer may have done a great job describing
the color and size of the item but once the item is received, it simply does
not fit or meet the customer’s expectations.
This can be no fault of the retailer as not all shirts or shoes are the
same size even when the tag is the same size.
The only way to determine if it’s a fit, is to try it on. One last reason that’s less obvious but a very important
reason that online retailers get more customer returns than brick and mortar
retailers is because an online transaction is “Less Personal” than a transaction
at a physical location.  Even though you
don’t “know” the person checking you out at the cash register, it’s still a
personal connection or point of contact during a brick and mortar transaction that
is simply not possible during an online purchase. Sure, some online retailers try their best to make it more “Personal”
by adding information about them, their family business, their customer service
emails etc that helps bridge this gap but it still falls short compared to a
face to fact interaction. The less personal the transaction, the easier it is for the
customer to return the item without the emotions that go along with returning
an item where there’s no personal interaction.
Most times, returning an item is as simple filling out a simple form
online, printing a label and giving the box to your local postal carrier or UPS

Top 3 Reasons People Return Products Online

Many surveys have been done about why people return products
online.  Here are the top 3 reasons:
  1. 23% received wrong item
  2. 22% product looks different
  3. 20% received damaged
Because there are many reasons customers return items
online, the condition of the items returned also varies greatly.  Most products that are returned are in
perfect condition, nearly new.  The only indication
the product isn’t new may be the box or packing materials show that the item
was opened.

The unfortunate part for the online retailer is that these products cannot be resold as new as the box and packing materials clearly show the item is not unopened.  Amazon will most likely label this product as “Defective” in their FBA system even though the product is not “Defective”.  Products such as this are PERFECT candidates for back-track’s reNEW program where we inspect the product, test the product, confirm the product is brand new and repackage the product to be just like new again.  That’s why we call the service: reNEW.

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