Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

Understanding the ‘Retail Returner’ – Five personas to watch out for

By Al Gerrie, CEO at ZigZag Global

As consumers discover more ways to shop online, return volumes have reached an all-time high, with ecommerce having increased by 50%. As such, returns have become an essential part of the shopping experience. In fact, our recent research found that 79% of consumers check the return policy before making a purchase and 46% abandon their basket if they are left unimpressed

As a result, we’ve identified Five Key Personas of the ‘Retail Returner’ that cover the majority of shoppers and are important for retailers to understand.

The Fast Fashionista

The ‘Fast Fashionista’ is very common, they adore fast fashion, are predominantly female and are often VIP customers. Womenswear retailers tend to be the largest adopters of the fast fashion business model and often have the highest rate of returns. 

Mainly between the ages of 18 and 25, the ‘fast fashionista’ persona expects a quick refund, with 11% wanting an instant refund and half expecting their money back within 3 days. Within the era of internet banking, this persona expects a speedy refund so they can continue the online shopping journey.  

TOP TIP: Don’t penalise the many for the sake of the few​ – high returners are often still your most valuable customers. Whilst this persona group will contain the most serial returners, to target fraudulent behaviour simply monitor and act accordingly, rather than implementing proactive measures that impact everyone.

Sustainability Champion 

Emphasis on greener ecommerce is now at the forefront of retail compared to a few years ago. The Sustainability Champion embodies this and cares about the environmental impact more than most. Typically aged between 26 and 35, they largely avoid fast fashion. In fact, 56% of this age group would choose a greener option regardless of refund speed. They are also more likely to pay a premium fee to process their return more sustainably. 

The Sustainability Champion will also look for electric vehicles on the carrier option list and are most likely to opt for a paperless return rather than printing at home. 

TOP TIP: Go paperless​ – using an online portal can reduce paper wastage by up to 60% with around 68% of consumers choosing to print in-store last year​.


This persona revolves around the life of a busy family and with a lot to juggle, they want as little hassle as possible from the returns process. The Family-Oriented shopper is the highest adopter of collection from home, yet also embodies the group most likely to return to other options. 

They also put an emphasis on flexibility and are willing to pay extra for added convenience in any form. Overall results show that 25% of consumers would pay for a premium return that is convenient for them. For younger shoppers and adults with children, this figure is at 36%. 

TOP TIP: Multi-carrier options​ – offer plenty of options including collection from home​, Post Office, convenience stores, lockers, and any PUDO solution along a commuter route​.

Cautious Clive

Usually over the age of 55, a Cautious Clive rarely returns items and often seeks reassurance that the returns process is easy just in case they need to. 

Communication is essential for this shopper with 47% of 56–65-year-olds wishing they were informed more. Cost is also more important to this group than the waiting time for a refund. In addition, they are most likely to check the returns policy for tracking services and make inbound phone inquiries. 

Cautious Clive’s are also more vocal about bad experiences. 22% stated their recent experience was frustrating, thus it is essential to meet the needs of this shopper. 

TOP TIP: Make your returns policy easy to find​ – Cautious Clives don’t suffer fools. They are the most likely group to check the policy so make it easy to locate on your website.​

Home Surfer 

The Home Surfer likely tried shopping new retailers and products online during the lockdown. They want intelligible returns policies and respond well to retailers that make their life easier. They shopped in categories that saw ecommerce spikes between April and July 2020, in areas such as Electronics and Sports & Leisure. 

Overall, collection from home rose by 27% in lockdown and this group of Home Surfers are the most likely to do so. They are also likely to be efficient at processing and sending back returns due to an eagerness to adopt the ways of shopping online. 

TOP TIP: Offer collection from home​ – As they are predominately new online, collection from home is an easy to trust carrier option.​


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