Royal Mail research has revealed a new breed of smart shoppers that are more experienced and confident in utilising their knowledge to create their own ideal shopping experience when buying online. This has led to the emergence of a series of new online shopping behaviour types including Returns Addict, Bargain Hunter, Duplicate Dealer and Swap Shopper.
The study - Delivery Matters Returns Special - which was conducted to coincide with the launch of the company's new Tracked Returns service - found that nearly 1 in 6 (16%) now do virtually all their shopping online. The new Royal Mail Tracked Returns service improves the experience of returning online purchases for both retailers and customers. It allows customers to easily print off a returns label and monitor the progress of their item while giving retailers full visibility of what exactly is being returned, from which customer and for what reason.
When it comes to choosing an online retailer, free returns is a key factor for shoppers with three quarters (73%) admitting that they would expect free returns as standard, while a further 1 in 3 (34%) would be very or extremely unlikely to use an online retailer again if they were charged to send unwanted items back.
Returns Addicts love sampling all that online shopping has to offer, safe in the knowledge that they can return products if they are not quite right. Women over 55 living in rural locations are the masters of the return with over three quarters (76%) saying that they recently returned personal purchases.
The most popular products to return are:
1. Women's clothes (30%)
2. Men's clothes (17%)
3. Footwear (16%)
4. Children's clothes (7%)
5. Electrical goods such TVs, radios (6%)
Excited at the prospect of trying before they buy, Duplicate Dealers like to make sure that they have exactly the right size for them with 1 in 10 (11%) choosing to buy more than one size of a single item. Women (13%) have the biggest online baskets with people in the Midlands proving to be the most frequent collector of multi sized clothing (14%).
These smart shoppers know how to find a bargain whether it is returns or buy one gets one free. Young city dwellers aged from 18 to 34 are the biggest deal hunters with 6% saying that they continue to look for a better price even after their purchase has arrived.
It is not just young people keeping their eyes peeled for a deal though. Over 55s have clear expectations when it comes to returns, with nearly half (42%) saying they would be very or extremely unlikely to use an online retailer again if they were charged to send unwanted items back.
Swap shoppers use easy online returns to change unwanted gifts – for themselves or on behalf of others. Gender plays no part in this behaviour type with both men (36%) and women (38%) saying that they have sent back a present that was purchased online. Southern urbanites are the hardest to please with over a third (38%) returning a gift.
Nick Landon, Managing Director, Royal Mail Parcels, said: “The internet is one big shop front, letting people anywhere in the country get their hands on anything they want. So it's no surprise that a range of different smart shopping behaviours have developed in the online environment over time.
“Consumers are more and more comfortable with online purchasing which means they are starting to dictate how they want the process to work from free returns to buying multiple sizes. We hope this research, and our new easy to use returns portal, will help online retailers to satisfy the evolving needs of this online community.”
The new Royal Mail Tracked Returns service improves the experience of returning online purchases for both retailers and customers. The returns portal enables online retailers to help their shoppers to benefit from an improved experience. They will have the ability to easily print off a returns label and monitor the progress of their item back to the retailer through Royal Mail's enhanced Tracked Returns service, which now tracks at five points in Royal Mail's network instead of two. It also gives retailers full visibility of returned items – from exactly which items are being returned, from which customer and for what reason. This will enable retailers to improve stock management because they will know what return items to expect each day and can plan ahead with future orders and despatch times.