A recent survey by courier price comparison site ParcelHero has revealed that at least 200 e-commerce businesses don’t expect to survive the massive growth in returns this year. Returns reached 47% of all ParcelHero shipments in the first days of the New Year and traders say that they were often pressured into paying the cost of returns even for unwanted items – or risk losing their all-important five-star ratings.
ParcelHero states that shoppers are now keenly aware of their right to return any unwanted items bought online, under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 14-day cooling off period. And half of all consumers now expect the same free returns that apply to damaged items to be given on unwanted items – or they will shop elsewhere.
David Jinks, ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, said: “Over the years we have often fought for consumers being led a merry dance over returned items by grudging retailers. But now things seem to be swinging too far the other way, threatening many of our favourite online indie stores. It’s all very well for the likes of Amazon to swallow return costs but they can literally make or break small traders. Whether they are selling online, or a traditional brick and mortar shop, it’s important for small retailers to know what they do and don’t have to offer when it comes to accepting returned goods.”
He continued: “The final nail in the coffin for small online retailers may be that 8% of shoppers now admit to returning items several times a month. And customers pushing the boundaries of the latest regulations mean it is difficult for retailers to prevent ‘wardrobing’: using an item once for a specific purpose and then returning it.”
ParcelHero has produced a free downloadable guide for sellers, spelling out what their own rights are, explaining the differences between the Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Consumer Rights Act, and what they should do if items are returned in less than perfect condition. Although it is not adult-specific, the issues will be mostly the same regardless of what product is being sold. The new guide is available free to download – you don’t even need to enter an email address to receive it – at https://www.parcelhero.com/blog/marketplace/business-guide-handling-returns