The No. 1 most hated method of returning purchases? According to PayPal-based Happy Returns’ second annual consumer report, “Returns Happen,” most consumers avoid mail-in returns whenever possible — and over 40% of those polled stated that they would rather sit in rush-hour traffic than make a mail return.
After surveying 2,002 U.S. consumers who returned an online purchase within the past year, those under 45 — and high-volume shoppers — found mail returns the most annoying. Such returns require shoppers to pack the item, print out a label and return the item by mail. The survey also found that only one-third of young shoppers have access to a printer for printing return labels.
Approximately 87% of consumers also stated that free returns are an important factor when purchasing items online, including immediate refunds and no packaging. A full 96% percent stated they would even travel for a free return.
The good news? The report shows that shoppers’ favorite way to return items — which are in-person, box-free returns — just so happens to be the lowest cost option.
Business Insider reported that some retailers have started charging consumers a fee to ship back their returns. Rising shipping expenses and the labor involved are costing retailers millions per year.
According to PayPal, shoppers often “bracket” their purchases, which means they buy multiple items with the intention of returning some of them. Data from the National Retail Federation shows that the average retailer sees $166 million in returns for every $1 billion in sales, Insider reported, and one estimate found that it costs a company 66% of the price of a product to process a return.
Paypal’s Happy Returns gives online shoppers the opportunity to return or exchange items in-person (without printing labels or including original packaging) while receiving funds immediately. According to the company, there are currently over 5,000 “Return Bars” across the U.S., saving shoppers the cost and hassle of shipping items back. The move could drive down expenses by as much as 40% for merchants.
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