STUDY: With Complimentary Returns, Consumers Twice As Likely to Spend More Than $1,000 Online

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Walker Sands’ 2014 Future of Retail Study reveals the majority of consumers are shopping online at least once per month; free shipping, returns among top drivers for increased revenue online.

Consumers are purchasing online frequently and are willing to spend hundreds of dollars without seeing a product first. According to Walker Sands’ 2014 Future of Retail Study, the amount consumers are willing to spend increases significantly when there is less risk associated with making a purchase.

Walker Sands, a public relations and digital agency for technology companies and startups, releases additional findings from its 2014 Future of Retail Study, which reveals that the majority of consumers (62 percent) are shopping online at least once per month. Less than 1 percent of consumers say they never shop online, yet retailers are still missing opportunities for increased revenue through specialty offerings.

Free Returns Can Increase Online Sales

The study finds that 45 percent of consumers have already spent as much as $500 on a product online without seeing it first, 16 percent have spent up to $1,000 and 10 percent have spent more than $1,000.

Comparatively, if free returns are offered, consumers say they’d spend more online without seeing a product first:

  •     Twenty-one percent would spend between $501 and $1,000
  •     Thirty percent would spend more than $1,000

Consumers also listed several other factors that would cause them to shop more online:

  •     Free shipping – 80 percent
  •     One-day shipping – 66 percent
  •     Easy online returns – 48 percent

“As shoppers become more comfortable purchasing products online, retailers must ensure they’re making the path to purchase – and return – as easy as possible, or they’ll go elsewhere,” said Tory Patrick, account director and lead of the retail technology practice at Walker Sands. “Consumers are ready to jump into the convenience of regular online purchases, but want less risk and hassle associated with making a mistake and needing to make a return.”

Consumers are purchasing most types of items online

The most common goods consumers have purchased online in the last year are:

  •     Consumer electronics (69 percent)
  •     Books (67 percent)
  •     Clothing and apparel (63 percent)
  •     Household goods (38 percent)

“Aside from luxury goods and home improvement supplies, our study revealed that at least one in five consumers have purchased products in categories across the board in the past last year,” added Patrick. “The in-store experience must tie in to online sales to keep consumers engaged in every industry. The importance of e-commerce is no longer just for specific types of retailers – an online presence is now required for every type of business.”

Consumers are setting new norms for online purchase, with 40 percent willing to purchase anything on

Consumers shopping frequently online are headed to Not only have 95 percent of consumers purchased from within the last year, they’re open to purchasing a variety of products online from the third-party retailer, even if they haven’t in the past. In fact, 40 percent of consumers are willing to try purchasing any kind of product on

Items consumers are most opposed to purchasing from are:

  •     Food (37 percent)
  •     Luxury goods (29 percent)
  •     Consumer packaged goods (11 percent)

“While it’s not surprising that more consumers are shopping online, the rate at which they’re spending money and shopping on third-party websites, such as Amazon, continues to be a threat for retailers across industries, especially as the frequency and type of products they’re willing to purchase on the site continues to expand,” added Patrick. “Even for items that have the highest opposition rates, the majority of consumers are willing to purchase them online.”

To view the full results of the 2014 Future of Retail Study, visit

The Walker Sands’ 2014 Future of Retail Study Methodology

The Walker Sands’ 2014 Future of Retail Study surveyed 1,046 consumers across the United States on their spending behaviors in the past year and preferences for future spending. The survey analyzed consumer behavior and preferences for making purchases online and in store with mobile devices and other technology. Responses were broken down by demographics, including income and gender, among other factors.

Walker Sands works with a variety of retail technology companies. Similar research is often assembled for these clients through the Walker Sands analytics team.

About Walker Sands

Walker Sands is a full-service marketing and public relations firm specializing in media relations for technology companies ranging from startups to enterprise level. With offices in Chicago and San Francisco, Walker Sands was founded in 2001 to provide data-driven marketing support for a wide array of companies with the business mission of providing best-in-class communications counsel and services. In 2013, Walker Sands has received recognition for client work from the PRSA Skylines, Hermes, PCC and PR Daily awards, among others. To learn more, visit the Walker Sands website.

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Erin Jordan
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