Majority of Online Shoppers Are “Much More Likely” to Buy from Retailers That Offer Free, In-Person Returns

New Study from Leading Retail Analyst Reveals Powerful Impact of Return Process on Online Shopping Behavior

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--()--Retailers that offer free, in-person returns with an immediate refund are more likely to win with online shoppers according to Returns Happen: A Growing Opportunity for Retailers, a new report authored by leading retail analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

Happy Returns, a technology, service, and logistics company that provides in-person returns for online retailers, commissioned the survey of 1,800 online fashion shoppers to understand shopper attitudes toward returns and what retailers can do to improve the experience.

Key findings of the research include:

  • Returns are shoppers’ least favorite part of shopping online by a wide margin
    • 73% of shoppers selected “Returns” as the least favorite part of shopping online
    • 15% of shoppers selected “Waiting” to receive items as the least favorite part
  • The anticipated hassle of returns leads many shoppers to avoid shopping online
    • 28% of those surveyed report that they shop less online than they would otherwise because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of returns.
  • Printing and repackaging present major challenges, especially for Millennial customers
    • 44% of shoppers under age 30 find it a hassle to print return labels
    • 62% of shoppers don’t have 24/7 access to a printer
  • A majority (51%) of Millennial shoppers prefer to return online purchases to physical stores, while only 7% prefer to return via mail
  • The most requested features of online shoppers’ ideal returns experience include:
    • No cost
    • Immediate refunds
    • Ability to drop returns to a local store
    • Allowing returns without a receipt
  • 85% of shoppers are more likely to shop retailers able to offer this returns experience
    • 56% of shoppers surveyed are much more likely to shop
    • 29% are shoppers surveyed are somewhat more likely to shop

“Returns are an overlooked and underappreciated yet critical component of the online shopping experience,” said report author, Sucharita Mulpuru, lead retail analyst at Forrester Research. “Recent announcements from Amazon, Kohls and Walmart show that leading retailers are finally addressing returns. This report outlines what other retailers need to provide to meet the expectations of today’s online shopper.”

Happy Returns is making the full report, Returns Happen: A Growing Opportunity for Retailers, available for free on its website at

“This is the first research that describes what shoppers want in returns and quantifies the impact of getting it right,” said David Sobie, CEO and Co-Founder of Happy Returns. “There are few, if any, other initiatives that online retailers can undertake to make more than 80% of their customers more likely to shop.”

About Sucharita Mulpuru:

Sucharita Mulpuru is the lead retail analyst at Forrester Research where she covers retailers and retail technologies. She has authored dozens of research papers focused on the retail industry, presents her findings at conferences and events around the world and is widely cited in the media on digital retail and eCommerce subjects.

Sucharita led the research and authored the Happy Returns research study: Returns Happen: A Growing Opportunity for Retailers.

About Happy Returns

Happy Returns is transforming e-commerce by solving the #1 pain point of online shopping—returns. The company does this by providing in-person returns through a network of physical Return Bar® locations staffed by friendly and highly trained Returnista™ return specialists, located in premier shopping centers, stores and boutiques.

With Happy Returns, shoppers get returns that are easy, free, involve no packing or shipping, and provide an immediate refund. Retailers using Happy Returns save money through decreased shipping and support costs and enjoy increased conversions and customer satisfaction. Shopping centers and other hosts benefit from highly-qualified foot traffic driven to their locations. Happy Returns is based in Santa Monica, California, and its investors include Upfront Ventures, Lowercase Capital, and Maveron.


Happy Returns
Jamie Diamond
(541) 441-4444



Happy Returns
Jamie Diamond
(541) 441-4444