Optoro’s “2023 Returns, Unwrapped” report reveals what retailers can expect from shoppers this year

Washington, DC – November 27, 2023 –
  Optoro, Inc., the leading technology provider for retail returns, today announced the results of its new “2023 Returns, Unwrapped” research. 

This year’s holiday shopping season will be especially challenging, given continued inventory issues, cost increases from inflation, and forecasts for weaker spending. A current understanding of consumer behaviors and preferences is imperative to help inform important aspects of the business, from expectations around returns options to shopper experiences. Optoro has identified four key themes retailers and brands must consider heading into the holidays:  

Shoppers are tougher on returns policies + user experiences

In a competitive retail landscape, shoppers are increasingly looking at retailers’ returns policies when deciding which brands to prioritize. 

  • 64% of shoppers admit they purchased from one retailer over another, purely because they had a better returns policy. 
  • Returns fees are another pain point: 44% of shoppers care most about free shipping when making a return. 
  • Retailers who offer label-less package-less returns are also likely to catch shoppers’ eyes (and share of wallet): 24% of consumers say their biggest frustration with returns is printing a label or finding packaging.

A positive returns experience goes a long way

Returns are a frequent touchpoint between brands and shoppers, offering a prime opportunity for retailers to tap returns to drive deeper loyalty and encourage repurchases. 

  • Brands’ biggest returners are often their best shoppers, with 65% making the most returns at the places where they shop the most or spend the most money. 
  • 48% of shoppers make a return every few months, and 22% make a return about once a month
  • Added convenience and flexibility can be a game-changer: 35% of shoppers struggle to find time to make returns, and 32% cite inconvenient returns options, such as not being close to a drop-off location, as the reason it takes them longer to make a return.

Rise of Habitual Returners

Lax returns policies have given rise to more habitual returners and some abusive behaviors, as shoppers treat their living rooms as the new dressing room.  

  • 37% of shoppers admit to embellishing or exaggerating the reason for a return to avoid fees or receive a refund.
  • Shoppers are most likely to embrace bracketing — purchasing an item in a variety of colors or sizes and then returning unwanted options — when shopping for apparel and accessories (35%). 
  • 48% of those who admit to bracketing embrace this behavior a few times a year. 28% only bracket ahead of major life events, like a wedding or job interview. 
  • 30% of shoppers admit to wardrobing, or buying an item for a specific event and returning it after use. 43% of those shoppers practice wardrobing a few times a year, while 23% conduct this behavior at least once a month.
  • 40% shoppers ages 18-29 are the most likely to “wardrobe” items.

In the age of inflation, shoppers are cost savvy

Shoppers are being choiceful in how they spend their budgets. These behaviors have grown ever-present in the returns landscape.

  • 58% of shoppers would waive their right to return an item at checkout for a discount on that purchase.
  • 45% of shoppers have made at least one return to save money.
  • 27% of shoppers are willing to pay under $5 for an item to be picked up from their house and returned on their behalf. Only 19% would pay up to $10.
  • 62% of shoppers have made the decision not to repurchase from a retailer because they charge for return shipping.

“In a competitive shopping landscape, retailers that lack well-considered returns policies risk losing loyal shoppers to competitors with more appealing policies,” said Amena Ali, CEO of Optoro. “By understanding shoppers’ unique behaviors and preferences around returns, retailers can not only manage the cost of returns, but reframe returns from a cost center to a revenue driver, creating experiences that capture the hearts and wallets of shoppers. A focus on convenient, flexible options that speak to customer’ needs – while helping retailers control their total costs – will help set retailers apart.”

For more information on how retailers can enhance returns for customers and drive repeat purchases please visit Returns Experience



Findings are based on a survey of 1,042 U.S. consumers, ages 18+. 


About Optoro

Optoro is a fast-growing SaaS company revolutionizing the retail industry with cutting-edge returns solutions for retailers, brands and third-party logistics providers (3PLs). Optoro’s modular Return Management System (RMS) orchestrates and streamlines return processes from returns initiation to the next customer, helping businesses maximize savings and revenue from every return while maintaining industry leading customer satisfaction rates. Optoro’s Returns Portal and Express Returns network enhance shopper convenience, reduce returns costs, and increase repurchase rates. Optoro’s Returns Processing software utilizes data and AI to reduce speed-to-stock times, eliminating backlogs. Trusted by the world’s leading retail brands like Gap, American Eagle Outfitters, Steve Madden, and Best Buy, Optoro is the preferred choice for turning returns into a strategic advantage.

Discover how Optoro is reshaping the future of retail returns at http://www.optoro.com/


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