Learn why shoppers experience the feeling of regret around a purchase known as “buyer’s remorse,” and how to help them move past it.

Chances are, you’ve experienced buyer’s remorse over a big purchase—whether it was a new car that you loaded up with luxe features before paying attention to the price tag, or a beautiful house on a street that cars treat like a speedway.

Learn more ways to improve your customer experience in the Future of Shopper Experience

Buyer’s remorse is most common when you’re making a large investment like a house, car, or vacation package, but it can also happen frequently when it comes to making smaller purchases through traditional retail or ecommerce channels—and these purchases often result in the shopper requesting a refund at the point of sale.

In this blog, we’ll discuss:

  • What is buyer’s remorse?
  • Why do shoppers experience buyer’s remorse?
  • What merchants can do to curb buyer’s remorse

First, let’s take a look at what buyer’s remorse is, why it happens, and how merchants can do a better job of preventing shoppers from regretting their decisions.

What is buyer’s remorse?

“Buyer’s remorse” refers to a feeling of regret that a shopper has after making a purchase and realizing that they aren’t happy with it.

In some cases, this may be because even though they like the product, they realize it was out of their budget. In others, the product may not function as desired, or look the way the shopper had expected.

In online shopping, where the shopper doesn’t have the opportunity to see or try on a product in person before making a purchase, buyer’s remorse is extremely common: 74% of Americans have experienced buyer’s remorse in online shopping.

Buyer’s remorse is closely related to cognitive dissonance, which refers to a state of discomfort associated with holding two conflicting beliefs about an important purchase or decision.

For example, if a shopper had purchased an expensive pair of shoes, and then realized they were deeply uncomfortable to wear, they’d need to either accept getting blisters every time they wear the shoes, or come up with an alternative solution, such as send the shoes back for a refund or try out a different size.

As a merchant, it’s in your interest to have the shopper send the product back for one they like better. After all, if they keep the product they’re having buyer’s remorse over, they’re more likely to write a negative review of the product or your brand, and are unlikely to shop with your store again in the future.

By understanding when there’s a problem and making it right, you’ll have a newfound opportunity to win over that shopper and keep them for the long term.

Why do shoppers experience buyer’s remorse?

Shoppers are prone to experience buyer’s remorse when they make financial decisions that they realize may not have been in their best interest—often due to impulse buying.

Common regrets include feeling like the product was less valuable than expected (39%), not using it as frequently as expected (34%), and having spent too much money on the purchase (32%).

Why do shoppers buy items that trigger buyer’s remorse in the first place? In many cases, (43%) it comes down to “good advertising,” while other factors include cheap prices (43%) and the product coming in the shopper’s preferred color (42%).

Buyer’s remorse is especially common in high-pressure environments, in which salespeople use manipulative tactics to pressure shoppers into making a quick decision on the spot. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission sees so many shoppers experience buyer’s remorse in high-pressure situations, such as in a door-to-door sales environment or a time-share presentation, that they’ve implemented a rule that gives shoppers time to back out of the deal after reviewing terms in more detail in certain situations.

The FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule provides a three-day period where shoppers can back out of deals made under applicable situations with no financial responsibility. However, this cooling-off rule does not apply to ecommerce sales.

What merchants can do to curb buyer’s remorse

As an ecommerce merchant, the best thing you can do to combat buyer’s remorse is to offer a generous and flexible return policy that lets shoppers return a product for any reason, even if there is nothing wrong with it, for a set amount of time. Many ecommerce merchants offer a minimum of a 30-day return window, though you may consider extending it to 45 days or even longer.

Rather than risk a shopper requesting a credit card chargeback or writing a negative review of the product on social media, offering them a refund gives your brand a chance to make things right—either by refunding their purchase price or offering an exchange for an item they like more.

Using a returns management solution like Loop can help you win back shoppers who’ve made the wrong decision on what to buy, giving them another opportunity to choose a product that suits them. You can even offer them “bonus credit” to incentivize exchanges, offering them additional store credit to apply towards the purchase price of a new item in your store if they choose an exchange rather than a refund.

This strategy provides a great customer experience—they can move past their buyer’s remorse and find a product they love—while your brand gets the benefit of increased customer revenue and retention. Merchants that use Loop typically see around a 40% increase in retained revenue from exchanges, and are able to preserve the relationship with the shopper rather than seeing them churn.

Ready to help your shoppers move past their buyer’s remorse? Get in touch for a demo of Loop.