Delivery & returns: simplicity, sustainability, service

Written by The RI Team | Read Time: 4 mins

Only 65% of consumers prioritise price when making a purchase with delivery, sustainability, customer service and reviews all taken into consideration. In addition, 62% of consumers see free delivery as an encouraging factor and 81% are more likely to buy from a retailer with a good returns process. 

Given all online sellers have a delivery & returns procedure (even those opting for third-party fulfilment), it’s a great way to differentiate your brand and increase conversion. To stand out from the competition focus on simplicity, sustainability and service.



We’ve all been there: the hidden shipping fees at checkout, weeks-long delivery times, a complicated returns form you need to print, stick and post. It’s no wonder that delivery and returns is one of the main causes of cart abandonment. According to RetailX Europe Fashion Report 2023’s, high delivery costs was the most common reason (36%) for abandoning an online fashion purchase. Meanwhile, just 13% of Gen Z shoppers are prepared to wait five days for delivery and 67% of consumers check the returns policy before making a purchase. 

Offering free shipping and returns is what all customers want, but it’s not possible for every brand or product. But clarity and simplicity comes at zero cost with huge rewards. 92% of buyers will make another purchase from a brand if their returns process is easy. Being upfront about delivery times, costs, returns and reimbursements will therefore stand you in good stead. But remember: with the rise of mobile shopping, your delivery and returns must be adapted for small screens.



In 2024, there’s no excuse not to offer sustainable deliveries and returns. Customers want it, the planet needs it, and it’s readily available across multiple industries and locations. 

First, start with packaging. From healthy & beauty to home & garden, there’s now a wide range of natural packaging made from the likes of bamboo, sugarcane, mushrooms and beeswax. Some brands choose recycled materials, such as cardboard boxes or aluminium tins, others use packaging that can be refilled or used for other purposes, such as glass jars. Given 76% of buyers support fully recyclable packaging, it’s a no-brainer. 

Second, green your distribution. Deliveries account for 20-30% of a city’s pollution, so moving to electric vans or bicycle deliveries can have a positive impact on the environment and your sales: 53% of e-commerce buyers want more sustainable deliveries while 69% would be willing to pay more for greener delivery. 

Third, outline a green returns policy. Whether you use low-carbon transport or offer discounts for returning products to a central location (to minimise carbon footprint), there’s an increasing number of sustainable returns options. What’s more, customers are more likely to pay for returns if it’s for sustainability reasons (i.e. fashion brands like Uniqlo and Zara charge for returns, but avoid customer animosity as the charge is highlighted for ‘sustainability’ reasons).



Undelivered packages. Damaged products. Items stolen from a customer’s doorstep. Many delivery issues are out of your control, yet still reflect negatively on your brand. However, you can control the customer service if something goes wrong. Being responsive and helpful over a potentially stressful experience (i.e. birthday present hasn't arrived in time) can make or break whether a customer has a bad experience and the likelihood of repeat custom. 

For instance, with many brands moving into the AI space, there is a temptation to use chatbots and automate customer service. But according to Mintel’s 2024 trends, 47% of UK consumers are concerned about AI’s impact on human interaction, and so ‘being human’ and providing empathetic service is a great way to stand out. 

This is especially helpful for brands with specialised products that might encounter more frequent delivery and returns problems. How does a customer return a bulky item like a sofa or controlled items like kitchen knives? Having friendly human advice on the other side of the line will make all the difference. 


Get in touch

Want to enhance your delivery and returns’ procedure for online marketplaces? Reach out to Rich Insight for more advice. 

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