£648m in damaged products to be delivered this Black Friday

With almost one in ten products ordered online arriving damaged, this Black Friday could see a lot of disappointed shoppers dealing with the hassle of returning their bargain purchases, and retailers facing £648m-worth* of refunds and replacements.

New research released ahead of Black Friday from packaging strategists DS Smith has found that three quarters of online shoppers have received a damaged product in the last 12 months due to the knocks and bumps of the delivery journey.

Three quarters of Black Friday shoppers in the UK are planning to use to event to buy Christmas presents this year, while others are seeking birthday gifts or to buy something for themselves.

Of those products which arrive damaged, categories most affected are homeware/kitchenware (23.68%), electronic goods/technology (15.29%), other, which includes books, toiletries and DVDS (13.10%), clothing/footwear (12.41%) and food/drink (9.54%). Lowest damage rates are seen with flowers and other gift items (2.53%) followed by garden products (2.99%), sports equipment (4.37%), furniture (7.59%) and toys (8.51%).

The emotional impact of the damage problem is significant. Over two thirds of shoppers (70%) feel disappointed at damaged products, a third (30%) frustrated, and a quarter angry and upset respectively.

To vent their frustrations, shoppers aged 18-24 are the most likely age group to leave a negative review or tell a friend about a damaged product, while 25-34-year olds are more likely to complain on social media – both of which can seriously damage a brand’s reputation.

But, unlike some products, reputational impact is not irreparable. A refund is crucial for encouraging the consumer to shop with the brand again, with more than 50% of shoppers claiming they would only return if they received a refund or received good customer service over the issue.

Often consumers decide that seeking a refund is too much hassle (40%) or the damage wasn’t severe enough (46%), so a quarter of shoppers keep their damaged products, meaning that up to £162m-worth** of refunds could go unclaimed this Black Friday if a replacement is not offered. A third of people have also had refunds refused or delayed – leading frustrated shoppers to place the blame on their delivery company (40%) or incorrectly-sized packaging (15%) for the damage.

Discussing the findings, Greg Dawson, Director of Corporate Affairs at DS Smith said, “The journey from the online retailer to the shopper’s front door has up to 50 touch points, that’s 40 more than an in-store retailer, so it’s vital that the packaging protects the product throughout the entire journey.

“The financial and emotional cost of receiving a damaged product is significant, especially during the festive period, and retailers need to be able to guarantee that products arrive with customers in one piece, during Black Friday and beyond. By using innovative technology that simulates the delivery journey – such as DS Smith’s DISCS – packaging can be optimised so that it can withstand the bumps and knocks between the online retailer and the shopper’s front door.”

Spending approximately £841 per year shopping online, the typical Black Friday customer buys two products, which have an average value of £81.89.


Research methodology

All data, unless specified, based on OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK adults who’ve made an online purchase in the last 6 months. Fieldwork was undertaken in November 2018.

*£648m figure based on: 8% of products arrive damaged (DS Smith research), as a proportion of IMRG prediction for 2018 UK Black Friday week spend of £8.1bn

**£162m is 25% (rate of unclaimed returns) of the £648m total damage figure.

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