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Three out of four have abandoned a retailer after dissatisfaction with the return process

74 % of Sweden's e-commerce customers dissatisfied with how an e-commerce store handled a product return will not return. This emerges from a survey on sustainable returns and return abuse conducted by Reclaimit with the help of Novus. The survey also shows that 19 per cent of e-commerce customers have ordered goods they do not plan to keep, such as clothes in different sizes, models, or colours.

State of returns and circular shopping

Reclaimit is an IT company from Piteå that delivers solutions for handling returns, complaints, and repairs to 600 retailers and suppliers in the Nordic countries. For the second time, Reclaimit has had Novus investigate Swedish behaviour and attitudes towards returning goods from e-commerce in the report Reclaimit State of Returns and Circular Shopping 2024.


The survey shows that dissatisfaction with returns causes e-retailers to lose customers. 74 per cent of those dissatisfied with a return process at an e-commerce company say they avoid shopping there again. Even more women react negatively to a failed return (81%). And overall, one-third (33%) of all customers have been dissatisfied with the return process when shopping online. 


- Complicated return processes cost retailers customers, says Wilhelm Hamilton, CEO of Reclaimit. It also prevents customers from returning unwanted goods that could be of use. With the EU moving towards new rules regarding returns, it is high time for e-retailers to review their return management to make it both sustainable and profitable.

Concerns about complicated returns also lead many to avoid shopping online sometimes. Over half of e-commerce customers (56%) have refrained from buying an item online to avoid risking having to make a return. Reclaimit's survey also shows that one in five Swedish e-commerce customers (19%) have ordered an item in several different sizes, models, or colours to keep one and return the rest. Among young people aged 18 to 29, the behaviour is even more common (36%) and among women (25%).


- Unfortunately, it is a widespread behaviour to order items that one knows will be returned, which is not sustainable for either the environment or the profitability of e-retailers, says Wilhelm Hamilton. E-retailers must make it easier for customers to order correctly with better product information. Today's merchants can quickly stop so-called return abusers, thanks to data from modern return management platforms.

The survey also shows the opposite - that missing returns can be an even bigger environmental problem. One-third of Swedish e-commerce customers (31%) have kept an item despite wanting to return it. The most important thing to reduce the environmental impact of consumption is to use the goods one purchases, as manufacturing causes the most significant environmental impact. Shipping accounts for only a fraction of emissions.


Not returning what one does not want applies primarily to clothes and shoes, and most often, they remain unused in the wardrobe. The main reason for the missing return is that customers didn’t bother to return the item (48%). Some even e-commerce customers say they refrain from returning unwanted items because they do not want to burden the environment (14%).


- If you have purchased an item you do not want to use, it is better for the environment to return it than to let it hang unused in the closet, says Wilhelm Hamilton, CEO of Reclaimit. So one must have two thoughts in mind simultaneously - not to shop more than necessary to avoid unnecessary returns and simultaneously ensure that mispurchases can be used by returning the item. E-retailers can help by offering smooth return management.


Facts about Reclaimit State of Returns and Circular Shopping 2024

  • Reclaimit has commissioned Novus to investigate Swedish behaviours and attitudes towards returning goods from e-commerce. A total of 1054 interviews were conducted among the general public aged 18–79 during the period 27 December 2023 – 12 January 2024. Of these, 1029 were e-commerce customers.
  • The survey was conducted via web interviews in Novus's randomly recruited Sweden panel, which guarantees representative results. This means that the results are generalisable to the current target population.

Download the entire report: Reclaimit State of Returns and Circular Shopping 2024

For more information, contact: Wilhelm Hamilton, CEO of Reclaimit

Tel: 070-748 63 23


Reclaimit is a rapidly growing SaaS company with a market-leading return and warranty management position in the Nordic region. We empower over 600 industry-leading retailers and suppliers with a unique all-in-one post-purchase customer experience platform, elevating the customer journey at scale.

By transforming challenges into opportunities, we help retailers maximise profits, increase customer loyalty, and minimise carbon footprint through circular shopping and sustainable returns. We go the extra mile to understand your unique needs, delivering solutions that guarantee success in a competitive market.

Michaela Westberg
Published 2024-03-07
Michaela Westberg works as CMO at Reclaimit.