Survey: Convenient Returns Yield Edge

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A convenient returns process is a critical factor when deciding where to shop, according to a survey Harris Interactive conducted for Newgistics Inc. The results were released today.

This is the third year that Newgistics, Austin, TX, a returns management solution provider, conducted the survey with Harris. Harris called 1,061 U.S. adults Nov. 25-27, of which 834 have shopped online or via catalog.

The survey found that 92 percent who have shopped online or by catalog are somewhat or very likely to shop again with an online or catalog retailer if the returns process is convenient. Newgistics said this is the third straight year that at least 90 percent of adults reported that. Conversely, 82 percent are not very or not at all likely to shop again with a cataloger or e-tailer if the returns process is inconvenient.

The returns process also affects consumers in their gift-giving decisions: 77 percent said returns policies and processes are important or very important when deciding where to buy a gift for someone else. Other findings:

50 percent said they typically buy additional items when returning merchandise to an online or offline retailer.

When returning merchandise bought online or through a catalog, 88 percent are somewhat likely, likely or very likely to take advantage of a discount on the next purchase. Sixty-seven percent are somewhat likely, likely or very likely to use the offer from the direct retailer even if it requires an in-store visit.

85 percent of direct shoppers said they are likely to return merchandise bought online or by catalog more quickly if the returns process is convenient.

20 percent said recent changes in gas prices were likely or very likely to influence their decision to shop online as opposed to in stores this season.

9 percent tried online shopping for the first time this year, bringing the proportion of adults who have shopped online to 60 percent.

75 percent said it is important or very important to know a direct retailer's returns policy before purchasing direct. And a majority of shoppers cited a convenient and visible returns policy as important or very important in deciding to shop with an online or catalog retailer that they have never shopped with before. Sixty-one percent also said they are somewhat or much more likely to shop with a retailer that lets customers create labels and track packages online.

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