Managing Returns: Creating an Ecommerce Return Policy
Returns are often overlooked when laying out your business plan and to be honest it’s not surprising; who wants to think about returning products when they could be focused on sales.
But the truth is, having an effective return policy can go a long way to boosting confidence and gaining a customer’s trust. Even when a customer isn’t satisfied with the product, handling the return professionally and efficiently can go a long way in keeping them as a customer.
Beyond customer relations, a comprehensive ecommerce return policy also makes good business sense. It can reduce the time and money you spend and most importantly it keeps your customers happy. In this post, we’re sharing 7 tips you can use to create a better return policy today.
1. Sales Shouldn’t Be Final
Customers like flexibility and if you don’t accept returns you’re going to lose a large percentage of shoppers. In certain circumstances (ie. intimate, clearance, damaged) you may need to amend the return policy but across your broader product line you should be prepared to offer refund, credit or exchange.
2. Prevent the Return by Keeping Consumers Informed
The main reason why people return products is that they feel misled and are disappointed with their purchase. This can be addressed by creating better product descriptions and sharing accurate pictures of your products. With great descriptions and pictures customers are far less likely to be disappointed.
3. Make Your Policy Easy to Find
Don’t bury your return policy in the depths of your website. Remember you want to make the process of returning products as easy possible, it will pay off in the long term. Consider sharing your return policy on your website, in customer correspondence, and even on receipts.
4. Tell Customers the Return Costs Upfront
Few things will upset a customer more than getting a surprise bill when returning a product; they’re are already unhappy so don’t make the problem worse. Be transparent from the time of purchase and where possible step up and cover the costs yourself.
5. Limit Return Timeframes but Consider Each Case
It’s completely acceptable to limit the time frame on returns, you don’t want to be accepting 5-year-old items for example, but it’s important to provide some flexibility. You want to give consumers enough time to make up their minds without letting them joyride the product.
Generally, a return window of 30, 60 or 90 days after purchase is a good timeframe. You also need to have a separate and longer timeframe specifically for damaged or malfunctioning products.
6. Exchange, Credit, Cash?
Be upfront about with your customers about how the refund process works. If it’s going to be an exchange, tell them; if it’s going to be a full refund let them know before they buy. You specific policy will depend on your business but in general credit is an option most customers will be happy with. Just remember to treat them with respect during the return process.
7. Have a Support Team Ready
You would be amazed at home many times consumers claim a product is broken, when it simply wasn’t assembled correctly. Have a special section of your customer support team dedicated to troubleshooting, it will save you from having to honour frivolous returns.
What does your organization’s return policy look like? Is there something that we missed? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll be sure to update our list!