ConsumersCustomersretail brandsRetailersReturnsReturning a purchase to the online store. Photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

According to Statista over 2 billion people worldwide made e-commerce purchases over 2020 and the e-commerce retail market grew to over 4.2 trillion US dollars.

With the steady rise of e-commerce and a global average of 30% of online purchases returned every year, there is a consistent flow of millions of online purchase circulating the planet at any given moment in time.

So why do we return our purchases? The statistics may vary somewhat from vertical-to-vertical and retailer-to-retailer. However, the reasons for return remain quite standard. And here they are:


It was damaged

Damaged is a catch-all which may include issues that render the purchase beyond repair, like a broken mirror; or it may be an isolated, reparable snag like a broken button. Whatever the situation, the consumer can return the item and expect a full refund.


It didn’t meet expectations

The online purchase experience cannot (yet) accurately simulate the trying room or show room experience. Ultimately, what we see online may differ from what we get, whether in terms of look, feel or size, or even impression.


It’s not my size

In the fashion and apparel category a fairly common return reason is size and fit. A purchase may be too big, too small, too narrow or too wide.


Changed my mind

We’ve all been there. Whether you call it retail therapy or whimsy, we’ve made an online purchase and have now decided to cancel it. For whatever reason the musical mug that we bought at 2 am, no longer seems like such an expedient purchase.


Accidental purchase

Mistakes happen. With sleight of hand you ordered three toasters instead of one.  Your four-your-old was on your lap, and in the split second that you were distracted a winter jacket was added to your summer clothes shopping cart. These are but two examples of how an accidental purchase may occur.


No longer needed

Perhaps you and another family member both purchased new linen for home use. Perhaps you ordered a gift for a celebration which is no longer taking place. Whether the item that you purchased is redundant or the reason for needing it is no longer relevant, the purchase is no longer wanted.



While all other return reasons are judgment free, wardobing falls into the category of retail fraud. This returns reason represents the manner in which consumers may abuse the trust that is placed in them and use or wear an item, and then return the purchase as if it is brand new.  In the UK alone, wardrobing is expected to cost e-commerce retailers £1.5bn.


If you – the reader – are amongst the 2 billion consumers who purchased an item over the past few months and for whatever reason you decided to return it, why did you do it?