Average Refund Speed Dips Below 10 Days For Largest Retailers

January is a month where many consumers are looking for refunds from the holiday shopping season.

In a study of the refunds performance of 40 of the largest online retailers, StellaService found that the majority of retailers evaluated aren’t meeting consumer expectations.

For orders placed in Q4 2014, the average speed to receive a refund from the companies evaluated was 9.5 days.

To get a better understanding of shopper expectations during the 2014 holiday shopping season, StellaService conducted a survey of 500 respondents from August 8 to 15, 2014 using Google Consumer Surveys. The majority of consumers said they expect a refund in 7 days or less.

The good news is that retailers are moving closer to those expectations. The same group of retailers were about a day slower issuing refunds over the same time period last year.

“Returns and refunds can’t be overlooked,” said Kevon Hills, StellaService vice president of research. “An easy returns and refunds experience can definitely have an impact on customer loyalty and word-of-mouth.”

StellaService Analysts ordered the same product from each retailer to be delivered to four separate regions – East, West, Midwest and South. They then returned the product, tracking metrics such as the presence of a prepaid, adhesive return label, total time to receive a return authorization and refund speed.

StellaService has noticed some retailers making refunds a priority.

Retailers under 5 Days in 2014:

  • Amazon: 2.1 days in 2014; 1.3 days in Q4 ‘14

  • Wayfair: 3 days in 2014; 3.4 days in Q4 ‘14

  • HP: 3.4 days in 2014; 4.7 days in Q4 ‘14

  • Apple: 5 days in 2014; 4.9 days in Q4 ‘14

Amazon, Wayfair and HP actually issued refunds for items prior to their return to the warehouse. Amazon also has been offering “instant refunds” where shoppers get refunded immediately and have 30 days to put the item back in the mail.

Apple issued refunds within 5 days in 2014 with their use of expedited return labels, which began mid way through Q4 2013.

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