One in four shoppers avoid buying from international retailers due to returns concerns, new ESW and Asendia research reveals


Asendia, the e-commerce and mail solutions provider, and ESW, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce company, have shared the latest insights from their report, Shipping and Returns: Leveraging Logistics to Unlock Global Loyalty.

Original research from more than 18,000 shoppers in 18 countries show customer expectations regarding the post-purchase journey - particularly regarding cross-border returns - are both high and varied.

Show me the money

Returns logistics can be challenging and expensive, therefore many retailers have begun implementing return fees in order to claw back costs and deter shoppers from making excessive purchases with the intention of returning most of them.    

Overall, nearly half of consumers said they are willing to make purchases even if there was a nominal returns charge.  However, Gen Z (58%) was more than 1.7 times more likely to accept a fee than Baby Boomers (34%).  Of the countries surveyed, India (76%), UAE (67%), and South Korea (61%) were most willing to accept return charges.  

Joining the club

Over a quarter (27%) of respondents would pay for a membership or subscription if it means they can return their purchases for free, while another 27% would pay return shipping charges. 

More than four in 10 shoppers in India, China and Mexico would pay a membership fee that includes free returns yet only 15% of UK, German, and Swiss shoppers would pay a membership fee. They would, however, pay for return shipping.

Helen Scurfield, CEO Global Returns at Asendia, commented: “In today’s global marketplace, a robust cross-border returns strategy isn’t just another box to tick, it’s a strategic imperative.  Prioritising a seamless, customer-centric return process enhances satisfaction, builds trust and ultimately fuels long-term success.  Each market is a unique ecosystem, with distinct customer behaviours and preferences.”

Nick Cranney, Global Logistics & Returns at ESW, added: "By removing the friction from cross-border returns brands can open routes to both higher spending shoppers and new customer cohorts.  But global reverse logistics are complex and managing them requires considerable expertise.  By partnering with ESW and Asendia, brands and retailers have access to our industry leading solutions, which allow them to enter new markets in a matter of weeks and create exceptional customer experiences that foster brand loyalty and deliver long-term revenue growth.”

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