InPost – e-commerce returns need contact free option

The UK’s leading parcel locker network operator InPost has released research showing that UK online shoppers are sitting on as much as £2.4 billion of unwanted, unreturned goods as lockdowns have made returning such goods significantly harder for them.

InPost also showed that 57% of online shoppers say that returning goods bought online is time-consuming and a hassle given the pandemic restrictions. Some 45% of them say that online retailers need to make the returns pathway easier in the current circumstances.

Compared to a typical January, 51% of those surveyed have accumulated more items to return than they may typically have.

The data is based on a survey of more than 2,000 UK adults conducted at the end of January by Opinium. It found that shoppers have an average of three items waiting to be returned, with an approximate total value of £165 per person.

Parcel lockers and other contact-free options should be considered by online retailers as many fear close proximity to others in Post Offices and other environments where they are likely to get within a safe social distance of others. As well as social distance issues, 65% didn’t like the idea of queuing.

Forty-two percent however felt that having a parcel drop-off point near their home would encourage them to return their goods sooner than they would normally.

Jason Tavaria, UK CEO at InPost, commented: “The current restrictions on daily life are vital as part of the effort to tackle Covid. But it’s clear that one of the side effects of these is making it harder for people returning items bought online. With budgets stretched for many, it’s crucial that retailers go the extra mile for their customers and make it easier and faster for them to return goods. Giving people access to more ways of returning online shopping, including self-service drop-off points such as lockers, will help them to avoid queues and get items and their money back more quickly.”

“The issue of difficult returns appears to be even more acute for the nation’s key workers, including healthcare and emergency service staff. This group told us that they have more items waiting to be returned, find it harder to return them given the current restrictions, and are more likely to end up keeping purchases bought online because returning them was too difficult. With most returns options remaining impractical for them, we’re continuing to roll out lockers in locations such as hospitals and supermarkets that offer key workers easy access to a safe and secure way to make parcel deliveries and returns, outside of traditional working hours.”