Uncovering consumers’ returning behaviour: a study of fashion e-commerce

Hannu Saarijarvi, Ulla-Maija Sutinen, Lloyd Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
208 Downloads (Pure)


The increasing prominence of e-commerce is shaping the nature and dynamics of retailing. E-commerce offers consumers lower prices, wider product categories and a more convenient shopping experience. In addition, consumers seek ways to manage the risk that is often perceived when making purchases online, which is why retailers’ online return policies have become an increasingly important attribute through which companies compete. Lenient return policies fuel unnecessary ordering and increase return rates, which in turn has major implications both for consumer behaviour and for managing the increasingly complex ecological and economical issue of online returning. Despite its relevance, prior research has paid limited attention to this evolving phenomenon. Consequently, the purpose of this study is to explore and analyse online returning behaviour in the context of fashion merchandise. As a result, 10 categories of online returning behaviour are identified that capture the reasons why consumers actually return items they have ordered online. These categories are further linked with when the decision to return ordered items emerges. Based on the results, managerial implications are provided to give guidance in managing online returning behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-299
Number of pages15
JournalThe International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research
Issue number3
Early online date9 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2017


  • online returning behaviour
  • e-commerce
  • retailing
  • fashion retailing
  • return policy


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