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One in Four Shoppers Avoid Buying from International Retailers Due to Concerns Around Returns, New Esw and Asendia Survey Reveals

Asendia, a global leader in e-commerce and mail solutions, and ESW, leading global direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce company, share the latest insights from Shipping and Returns: Leveraging Logistics to Unlock Global Loyalty.

  • About half of shoppers are willing to purchase products even if there is a nominal charge to make a return
  • Gen Z shoppers are nearly twice as likely as Baby Boomers to accept a returns fee.
  • A quarter of consumers would be more likely to shop cross-border if all import charges, taxes and duties were disclosed.
  • 40% of shoppers are willing to wait up to a week for their international purchases to be delivered.

Key findings based on data from more than 18,000 respondents in 18 countries show customer expectations regarding the post-purchase journey — particularly regarding cross-border returns — are both high and varied.

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The report highlights several key concerns customers have related to shipping and returns, and helps global brands and merchants understand how to meet consumer expectations. It offers insights into consumer sentiment regarding transparency around fees and return policies, charging a returns or restocking fee, and free returns in exchange for a subscription membership.

Returns logistics can be challenging and expensive, therefore many retailers have begun implementing return fees to cover costs and deter shoppers from making excessive purchases with the intention of returning most. Overall, nearly half of consumers said they are willing to make purchases even if there was a nominal returns charge. However, Gen Z was more than 1.7 times more likely to accept a fee than Baby Boomers. India, UAE, and South Korea were most willing to accept return charges.

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27% of respondents said they are inclined to pay for a membership if it means they can return purchases for free. Another 27% would pay return shipping charges. More than four in 10 shoppers in IndiaChina, and Mexico would pay a membership fee that includes free returns. However, only 15% of UK, German, and Swiss shoppers would pay a membership fee, though they would pay for return shipping.

“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 behaviors and preferences”, comments Helen Scurfield, CEO Global Returns, Asendia.

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