by Christopher Blomquist

A newly released survey by software company Voxware shows that many online retailers are dropping the ball when it comes to fulfilling customer orders and therefore generating more returns.

According to the study, 41 percent of respondents returned an item due to retailer error (incorrect size, color, or wrong item altogether), up from 30 percent in 2018. 

Even if the item is correct, 26 percent of consumers returned items because they were delivered later than promised at the time of purchase, up from only 10 percent reporting returning late items in 2018. 

More than half (51 percent) of respondents said they returned an incorrect item only to have a wrong item sent the second time around. 

In addition, 56 percent of consumers prefer the option to return items via pre-paid postage, up from 47 percent in 2018. In-store returns saw a decrease in preference, dropping from 41 percent in 2018 to 34 percent this year. This may indicate increasing comfort with returning via mail and is also attributable to avoiding in-store returns this year due to the pandemic.

Nearly all of the surveyed consumers (97 percent) agree or strongly agree that the way retailers handle returns influences whether they will purchase from that retailer in the future. The survey also found when the retailers make a mistake, nearly 40 percent of the consumers expect to receive the correct item within one or two days of informing the retailer of the error.