Online returns piling up in a warehouse.

Online returns: make it free or else

  • 53% of shoppers would not be willing to spend on postage or courier to return an item.
  • Only 13% are willing to pay more than $10 on postage or courier.
  • 37% prefer to return an item in store.

Consumers believe returns are an inevitable part of online shopping – so much so that a survey has indicated that more than half (53 per cent) don’t want to pay for it. The findings have implications for a number of online retailers who only offer returns by consumer-paid postage.
Parcel delivery service CouriersPlease commissioned a survey of an independent nationally representative panel of 1021 Australians who shop online.[1] Respondents were asked how much they were willing to spend for returns and what returns method would motivate them to return an online-purchased product.
After 53 per cent of respondents said they would not be willing to spend a cent returning an item they bought online, one-in-three (33 per cent) said they would spend a maximum of $10 an a return. Only 13 per cent are willing to pay any more than $10 to return their items.
Respondents were asked which returns method they preferred. 37% most preferred to return items in store. This was highest among millennials (47% of this age group chose this returns option) and lowest (23%) among 50-something shoppers.
29% preferred returns by courier. 27% per cent liked returning items to a post office or parcel drop off point such as a newsagent or petrol station. This was lowest (9%) among of 19-29-year-olds, and highest among over-60s (40%).
Head of commercial and transformation at CP Jessica Ip said: “The high return rate in the online shopping sector is here to stay. As consumers lose the touch-and-feel aspect when buying online, they can erroneously purchase the wrong size or colour, their expectations for texture or quality might not be met, or they might simply change their mind altogether once the product is in their hands.
“CP aims to make the returns process easier. We encourage online shoppers to take advantage of our network of POPPoints, where customers can post their returns in any one of our POPStation lockers or POPShop locations for free. This service enables Australians to conveniently return their parcels at any time and save them a trip to return the item in store during business hours.”
How much are you willing to spend returning an item you bought online?

I only return an item if it is free to return53%
Under $1033%
Up to $156%
Up to $203%
Up to $301%
More than $303%


Returns method that would most motivate consumers to return a product they bought onlinePercentage of respondents
Being able to return the item instore37%
A courier picking up and returning the item29%
Returning the item to a post office or parcel drop off or collection point such as a newsagent, petrol station or retail27%
Being able to return the item to a parcel locker7%


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