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

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.

CHICAGO – November 21, 2013 – 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

"Our study demonstrates that while consumers have become more open to shopping online for a multitude of products over the past few years, they're more open to making more costly purchases online when there is less risk associated with the purchase," said Mike Santoro, President at Walker Sands. "We've already seen retailer success with this on a smaller scale with companies such as Zappos offering two products on the first delivery and creating an easy process for anticipated returns, so it will be interesting to see how retailers handle this with larger, more expensive goods."

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, at least one in five consumers has purchased products in categories across the board in the past last year.

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 online CPG, food and luxury markets are just getting off the ground, there is a massive opportunity for growth in this area in the next year, with less than half of consumers being opposed to purchasing luxury and food items online and nearly 9 in 10 open to purchasing CPG products," added Santoro. "Like other goods already taking off on third-party websites, retailers of these products will need to develop an online strategy early to capture this essential piece of the market."

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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