The relationship between shipping times and return rates


When you’re looking to buy a product online, and the website says something like “Usually ships in 1-2 months”, do you end up buying it? My guess is no. Yet somebody must be purchasing these items, or Amazon and other retailers would just hide them from view when they’re out of stock. But this makes me wonder: to what extent does the time elapsed between purchase and delivery impact the likelihood that a customer will return the product?

My guess is that the longer you have to wait, the greater the chance you’ll forget about the product or decide you don’t want it when it finally arrives. What’s the implication for online retailers? Among other things, make sure to keep customers posted on the status of their backordered items. Otherwise, you may find that you replenished the inventory only to have a large portion of those orders returned by the customer anyway.