How Many E-Commerce Parcels Do You Return?

I just saw an interesting article in relation to the volume of returned shipments, for items bought online. The article quoted that in 2018, Americans sent back 10% of their purchases (up from 8% two years earlier). And that in Sweden, return rates of up to 60% have been seen for some products.

As well as the increased commercialism that is provided by online retailers in making the purchase process easier and perhaps more impulsive, and the resultant impacts of all of those purchases being packaged and shipped, we should also consider that a percentage of that volume will also be returned, further increasing the logistical and environmental toll.
The article quotes that Optoro (a company that helps retailers manage their returns) estimated that only 10% of the merchandise ends back for sale. Some are sold to discounters and recyclers, or sent to charities. But a large proportion ends up in landfills or incinerators. All of that adds to the operational costs, which obviously need to be absorbed into the original sale price.

So, how relevant is that info to the Australian market?
Just for my interest, I've added a poll for you to indicate the percentage of online purchases that you make, that you eventually return to the online seller.

Poll Options

  • 61
    Less than 10%
  • 1
    Between 11% and 30%
  • 0
    Between 31% and 50%
  • 0
    More than 50%


  • +7 votes

    I only send things back if they are damaged/broken or not what I ordered.


      Thanks; how often does that occur? (as a %)

      • +5 votes

        Couldn't say. Rarely though, not even once per year usually.


        It's Very Rare for anyone in this home to send anything back.

        Exception: We always seek a Full-Refund if we later discover,
        that someone is selling something unlawful, eg, S/W or
        a PDF knockoff when No genuine publisher offers PDF of the
        book in question eg, "The Barefoot Investor"

        Oops! Almost forgot: One order was charged at a higher $-amt.
        (the voucher didn't work, or maybe it did, but something hap-

        Buyer saw the 20%-Off price, but was charged the full price, &
        vendor wouldn't refund the 20% (as Wireless1 did once ~3 ur
        ago fr memory.l

        A refurbished Dell was brought to the door, we advised driver,
        that we'd arranged (w/ vendor) to Send it back. All went well.)

        PS Amazon had the Paperback Ed. of that book's 2019 Ed.
        for $9.50 yesterday

  • +3 votes

    i have some female friends that buy from clothing places with free returns (The Iconic?). They buy the same dress / pants / etc in 3 sizes knowing they will return 2 items (or all 3).


      Wow, so probably around 30% as a minimum

      I understand the 'free returns' thing, but that cost must be factored in by the seller, particularly if other purchasers are doing similar rates of return.

    • +2 votes

      Have done that myself a couple of times with shoes during the New Balance sales…you also need to spend over $100 for free shipping.


        To clarify, buy sufficient quantity to meet the 'free shipping' spend criteria, and then take advantage of the free returns?

        • +2 votes

          Yes, both.

          Ie I want maybe 2 pairs of shoes, I buy 2 x 2 pairs in different sizes, then return 2 pairs.

          If I did it separately, I woulbe ordering 4 times over a few days to a week, paying for shipping each time.

  • +2 votes

    I have only ever returned a warranty claim and a shirt for wrong size.
    So that's like way less than 5%

  • +2 votes

    2 returns for me this year, Intel SSD and Brother Printer, both defective.

  • +2 votes

    Damn. I need to change my answer to ~25%.

    As a personal consumer, I do not recall returning anything but as a business, I keep getting wrong orders. Usually correct item type, wrong details.


    One RMA in 10 years out of 500+ purchases. Got a refund on two items, one not as described, another the wrong item.

  • +1 vote

    Approx.25% if clothing/footwear purchase and brand/style unavailable to fit instore or inconsistent sizing.

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