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Survey Finds 81% of Online Shoppers Not Likely to Purchase Again From Retailers Who Charge for Return Shipping

Actual Multi-Year Spending Data Reveals that Offering Free Return Shipping Substantially Increases Consumer Spending with Retailers

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey of online shoppers revealed consumers have higher expectations of online shopping than ever before. ShopRunner, which brings together a network of retailers to deliver powerful shopping services, conducted the survey to understand today's online shopping drivers and found that consumers are not concerned solely about free shipping on purchases, but free return shipping is increasingly at the forefront of their needs.

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The survey, commissioned by ShopRunner and conducted online by Harris Interactive, polled 3,036 adults in the United States ages 18 or over in December 2012 (2,839 of which indicated they shop online).  The results revealed negative economic consequences for retailers not offering free return shipping with 81% of online shoppers saying they are not likely to make additional purchases from websites that charge shipping on returns and 69% feeling that returning items purchased online is a complicated process.

This follows on the findings of a compelling recent September 2012 study from Washington and Lee University1, which contrasted the effect of paid or free return shipping on consumer behavior. Researchers tracked actual consumer spending over the course of four years and found that retailers' return shipping policies greatly affected customer spending and loyalty. Customers paying for their own returns universally decreased their spending, between 75% and 100% at that retailer by the end of two years after the return. In contrast, customers who received free return shipping universally increased their spending with that retailer between 158% and 457%.

Aside from consumer demands around returns, with the increasing prevalence of mobile devices, the ShopRunner survey also found that 67% of online shoppers would purchase more online from their mobile device or computer if they could use the same secure, easy check-out procedure across all websites.

With respect to choosing to buy online versus in retail stores, these shoppers showed that they value fast delivery and 77% would spend more online and less in stores if free 1-2 day shipping was offered.  Additionally, having more faster free shipping options would drive 65% of shoppers to procrastinate and put off making purchases longer than usual.

"These results demonstrate a huge opportunity for retailers to increase sales by meeting the increasing consumer demands for online shopping including free and easy returns, fast delivery, and streamlined checkout," said Fiona Dias, chief strategy officer of ShopRunner. "The bar has been raised by competitors, but it is challenging for most retailers to cost-effectively offer these shopping benefits on their own. With ShopRunner's unique network solution, participating retailers can offer compelling shopping services in an economically viable way and profitably grow their businesses."

With its expanding suite of services, ShopRunner helps retailers address online shopping pain points by leveraging the power of a cooperative network of 70 retailers.  Recently, ShopRunner has expanded its online shopping services beyond its initial offering of fast, free unlimited 2-day shipping. ReturnRunner offers consumers free return shipping and a simple way to return products using consumers' own mailboxes. Additional services include PayRunner, a fast and secure two click checkout process, and ShopRunner PickupPoints which gives consumers the option of picking up online purchases at nearby convenient retail locations.

For complete survey results and methodology, including weighting variables, please contact [email protected].

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of ShopRunner from December 7-11, 2012 among 3,036 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and, therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact [email protected].

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

About ShopRunner
ShopRunner brings together a network of retailers to deliver powerful shopping services for its members. The first and only company to unite America's most sought-after retailers in such a mutually beneficial ecosystem, the ShopRunner network enables retailers to offer more deeply integrated shopping services than they could on their own.  As a result, ShopRunner members shop easily and often across ShopRunner's network of retail websites and stores, saving time and money with unlimited free two-day shipping, free and easy returns, as well as quick and simple checkout through PayRunner. Soon, members will also have the option of receiving their package at thousands of nearby ShopRunner PickupPoint™ locations. By making shopping easier, ShopRunner's 70 retailers including Toys"R"Us, American Eagle Outfitters, PetSmart, GNC and Sports Authority are better positioned to compete in today's marketplace. 

1 Amanda B. Bower and James G. Maxham III, Washington and Lee University, "Return Shipping Policies of Online Retailers: Normative Assumptions and the Long-Term Consequences of Fee and Free Returns," Journal of Marketing, September 1, 2012

Contact: Miranda Coykendall
Schwartz MSL
(415) 512-0770
[email protected]

SOURCE ShopRunner

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