Nowadays, many online retailers brag about offering free returns. They give customers the option to return or exchange the products they ordered within two weeks, a month, or even more after receipt.
We, at Konsha, will not offer free returns. Here is why.
What does the data show?
According to Optoro, in the US alone, every year returns create more than 5 billion pounds of landfill waste and more than 15 million tonnes of carbon emissions. US consumers return approximately 3.5 billion products annually. Of those, only 20% are defective.
On the other hand, even today, most brands still rely on single-use, usually plastic, packaging. More than 80 million tons of packaging waste is produced every year. Data shows that packages are responsible for approximately half of the global waste.
Returns are not mitigating these scary numbers. They are exacerbating them. As every Economics major student likes to say – “there is no free lunch”. Unfortunately, there is no free return as well.
Speaking about money… According to research by Barclaycard, 33% of online retailers offer free returns but offset the cost of this by charging for delivery. On the other side, 20% claim they would increase the price of products to cover the cost of returns.
At the same time, while returns rates to physical stores are around 8%, this percentage jumps to around 25% for items bought online. Yes, online shoppers tend to return about a quarter of the products they buy.
Another recent trend that hurts the whole perception of free returns is the so-called over-ordering. Serial returners nowadays tend to order more than they need or can afford with the sole idea of keeping the items they want and returning the rest. Statistics show that 30% of shoppers deliberately over-purchase and subsequently return unwanted items. On the other hand, 19% admit to ordering multiple versions of the same item so they could make their mind up when they’re delivered.
What is our strategy?
Our returns strategy was a topic that the whole team discussed multiple times. We looked at it from different angles. We wanted to make everyone happy – the brands, the customers, even ourselves. But at the end of the day, we realised that the long-term purpose of Konsha is to make the Earth happy.
Taking this into consideration, we decided to not offer free returns. No, we are not stingy and yes, we do not want to compromise on customer experience. We simply believe that our customers are individuals who share our ideals and would understand our decision and the logic behind it.
It is simple. We ask everyone to think carefully before adding a product from our shop to their #konshas cart. Yes, we are a retailer. But no, we are not greedy. We believe that people should buy only the products they truly need and are 100% in love with. That said, our only request to you, dear Customer, is: “Think! Think twice before buying something… not only from Konsha but from any store out there!”
In return, we promise to provide as much transparency as possible to you. We will constantly monitor the products offered by the brands we partner with. We will ensure they share adequate information about sizing, materials, production, care, etc.
Of course, we and our partners can also make mistakes. This would result in reclamations on your side. That is perfectly fine. This reminds me of a quote by Richard Attenborough: “I don’t blame people for their mistakes, but I do ask that they pay for them.” Therefore, we and the brands that joined us on our mission will accept the mistakes we made with grace and will respect your reclamation. In accordance with our Delivery & Returns Policy, reclamations may result from defective design, material, and workmanship as well as from lack of compliance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
In any other case, we expect consumers to handle the cost of return and we are convinced we made the right choice by implementing this kind of policy.
The critical question we asked ourselves as well?
What is worse, the environmental effect of returns or the environmental effect of non-returns?
One of the reasons that provoked us to reconsider a few times the concept of free returns is the impact that non-returned goods may have on the environment. For example, if you order a dress and it turns out you just don’t like how it fits and you forget it and after a few months or years throw it away, this means more pollution. However, we believe that if customers are not offered free returns, they are more likely to be more careful and thoughtful when they order goods. This way they minimise the possibility of acquiring things they do not need or like.
At the same time, there are numerous options available for reviving the items you do not want anymore. It was estimated that in the past three years, secondhand listings on Ebay went up 31%. Therefore, instead of offering free returns, we decided to put our efforts into developing an easy way to give the products you don’t like a second chance to be loved, so stay tuned.
If you are reading this paragraph, then probably you are on board with our proposition. We hope to see you again!