Items Most Likely to be Returned to Your eCommerce Business

What are the Most Returned Items?

If you are in the business of selling a product, whether online or a physical store, customers will eventually return some of those items.

A new infographic from Website Builder Expert has some interesting insights as to how this part of the retail industry affects the overall business. The report also looks at which countries are the most fickle when it comes to the items they buy.

Returned items have always been a pain point for retailers, but since the introduction of eCommerce, the process has gotten more complicated and expensive. For small businesses, it is a growing concern because more of them are selling their products online.

In the report, Website Builder Expert says spending on eCommerce platforms is increasing 15% year-on-year. And by 2040 almost all or 95% of all purchases will be facilitated by eCommerce.

Increased Number of Returns

The number of returns has been increasing by an average of 200 thousand. In 2016 there were 1 million returned packages. This went up to 1.3M in 2017, and by more than 1.4M in 2018.

According to UPS, during the 2018 holiday shopping season, it was expecting 1M return packages each day leading up to Christmas. On the day the company has dubbed ‘National Returns Day’ there were 1.4M returned packages.

UPS also said 75% of consumers have shipped returns to retailers. This, however, doesn’t mean consumers don’t keep the item. Close to two thirds or 65% of consumers said they were satisfied at being able to process a return or exchange online. And 79% of consumers rate free return shipping as an important requirement when choosing a retailer.


In the infographic, customers return items for a wide range of reasons. The biggest and most obvious one is a defective product at 59%. This was followed by buyer’s remorse at 42%, other at 35%, and misrepresentation of the product at 29%.

As to what consumers are returning, clothing tops the list at 75%. Electronics was next at 27%, shoes, 23%, beauty, and personal products at 15%, outdoor and sports gear 7%, and food at 6%. The remaining 4% were returns other than the items listed above.

In Europe, Germans returned more items than all the countries in the study. More than half or 52% of Germans returned online purchases. Germans also returned double the average amount of sport and leisure furnishing, while Spaniards returned double the average rate of home electronics.

Consumer Behavior

Online commerce has change consumer behavior. For businesses, it means adapting to these new norms in order to acquire and retain existing customers.

The report says mobile will be a driving force in eCommerce. More than half or 57% of consumers said they will abandon your site if they have to wait more than three seconds for a page to load.

So, if your site is not optimized for mobile, you may lose a potential customer before they even see what you have to offer.

In addition to optimizing your site for mobile, you also have to be transparent. Over half or 56% of online shoppers pointed out they will abandon their shopping cart if they see unexpected costs at checkout.


The key to successfully acquiring and keeping customers in today’s digital commerce is understanding the entire ecosystem.

Knowing which devices and operating systems your customers prefer are just two data points you can optimize to better address their needs.

The good news is small businesses now have access to the tools they need to analyze all of the different data points about their industry, customers, and much more.

Most Returned Items and More

The infographic below provides more information.

What are the Most Returned Items?


Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 9 years. He currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.