Five retail brands which do not offer shoppers free returns for online purchases


New research by card payment provider Paymentsense has discovered the brands most commonly searched for in terms of their free return policies.

Approximately, 78 per cent of customers said they are more likely to buy from a brand if they offer free returns, as it makes the process easier and also offers security – especially for more expensive purchases.

With this in mind, Paymentsense analyzed search volumes for the top 500 retailers in the UK to see which brands were being searched for in relation to ‘free returns’. The team then analyzed the top 20 brands’ websites to see what returns policies they actually offer.

Out of the top 500 retailers in the UK, Amazon came out on top, with on average 4,400 searches related to free returns per month.

Amazon is the most searched-for brand in the UK at 414 million searches a month for its brand name alone. Customers will be happy to hear they can return items for free within 30 days.

Following Amazon is clothing retailer ASOS at 1,600 ‘free return’ related searches a month.

Top 10 brands searched for by online shoppers offering free returns

  • Amazon – 30 days
  • Asos – 28 days
  • Shein – 60 days
  • Zara – 30 days
  • Boohoo – 28 days
  • Missguided – 28 days
  • Aliexpress–15 days
  • Nike – 60 days
  • Adidas – 60 days
  • Nasty Gal – 28 days

Out of the top 20, only five brands did not offer free returns to all UK customers.

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These are:

  • Overstock
  • Sports Direct
  • Uniqlo
  • House of Fraser
  • Next

High levels of returns can cause strain to a business’s supply chain due to higher package volumes.

Some 52 per cent of shoppers are unlikely to use an online retailer again if they’re charged for returns, but by offering free returns, brands open themselves up to serial refunders who are likely to take advantage of the offering and order more products than they need.

In the UK, one in three customers return a product once a month.

Paymentsense’s data from anonymised transactions from over 54,000 Paymentsense card machines across the UK, shows small businesses lost an average £15,600 a month due to serial refunders in 2021.

With more companies offering ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ and ‘Free Returns’ options to keep up with customer preferences, returning items has never been so easy. This has led to many mistreating the ease of refunding and returning items.

Three most common reasons causing recurring refunds:

  • Returning items due to unnecessarily ordering the same item multiple times
  • Having issues or being untruthful with the item’s arrival or condition
  • Using purchases and then returning them for a full refund – known as ‘wardrobing’ when done with clothing items


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Commenting on the finding, Jon Knott, Head of Customer Insights at Paymentsense said: “Most online retailers have evolved their returns policy to meet customer expectations and demands. This year in particular, many businesses have implemented free delivery and returns, as well as offering multiple ways of returning an item, either in-store or online.

“The rising dominance of online shopping was predicted to happen due to convenience and easier price comparison. However, this transition was sped up massively during the pandemic as lockdown restrictions caused more people to stay at home, as opposed to heading out physically to the shops. As online shopping continues to rise in popularity, businesses are seeing higher levels of product returns as consumption increases to an all time high.”

He added: “Although customers are pleased they are getting their money back, high levels of product returns can have a profound impact on small businesses. Card machine providers need to work towards providing solutions for businesses as the shopping behavior of customers no longer aligns with the operations of businesses today.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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