Returnament: Run me my refund

We pit fast store credit against delayed refunds, and fast partial refunds against delayed full refunds.

In round 3 of Returnament 2022, we’re weighing the final, all-important stage of the return process: credit/refund.

As always, we present BOXpoll respondents with a hypothetical online return order they’d like to return and ask them to select “winners” of different matchups. 

This time, however, our methodology is slightly different. In previous rounds, we selected the “winner” of each matchup based on which method would make consumers more likely to keep the online purchase instead of returning it, but not so much friction that they’d vow never to shop with the retailer again. This time—since the hypothetical return is already at the credit/refund stage—winners are based solely on “least likely to prompt shopper wrath.”

Consumers can’t say it any louder: They can’t stand waiting 7-10 days for their refund after an online return. It’s a sentiment consistent across all age groups, with the impatience level increasing slightly with age. 

The fact that online shoppers would rather get fast store credit than wait for a refund, taken with last month’s finding that consumers are hungry for convenient online exchange options, signals an opportunity for retailers to reduce return rates (and improve bottom lines) by focusing on exchanges. 

One caveat: Instant store credit upon carrier receipt could also lead to more fraud, given that an alarming 16% of BOXpoll respondents say shipping back a different item than what was originally purchased is acceptable.

While consumers would rather get instant store credit than wait for a refund, they’d rather wait for a full refund than pay for return shipping.

While consumers would prefer to get instant store credit than wait for a refund, they’d rather wait for a full refund than pay for return shipping. Hardly surprising, given last year’s BOXpoll findings that 39% of shoppers rate “paying for return shipping” at the max end of the RMA pain scale, calling it akin to having a limb ripped off. The dramatics! 

Returnament 3

The method to the Returnament madness

We award a maximum of 1 point per return option in each matchup. First-place winners earn 1 point. If multiple options are tied for top-ranked value, the winning options are awarded 1 point. If all options in a matchup are statistically tied, all contenders win 1 point. Second place options earn 0.5 point, while last place options earn no points. At the end of each round, we tally the points for each method (shown in the WIN column) against the number of Returnament matchups it has competed in (shown in the TTL column).

BOXpoll™ by Pitney Bowes, a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture, and ecommerce logistics. Conducted by Pitney Bowes with Morning Consult //2094 US consumers surveyed July 2022.© Copyright Pitney Bowes Inc.

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