E-Commerce Seller Financing • March 16, 2020
If you have an online store, returns, exchanges, and refunds are an inevitable part of your business. That’s because e-commerce shopping has many limitations, such as shoppers not being able to touch, examine, feel, or try on the products that you offer.
Even if you have quality product images and clear product descriptions, your products may be the wrong size, color, or fit, or simply not meet buyer expectations.
Why You Need an Online Policy
Customers return products due to several reasons. Some of them may be out of your online store’s control. The most common reasons for returning a product are:
- The product didn’t meet the buyer’s expectations,
- The product was damaged or had defects,
- The buyer bought the wrong item,
- The person received the product as a gift and prefers not to keep it, or
- The buyer has changed their mind and no longer needs or wants the product.
As a result, about 10% of all purchases from physical stores are returned. When it comes to online stores, buyers return about 30% of all purchases.
Even though that is a loss to any online business, a return policy absolutely matters and can determine whether buyers will shop from you again. About 70% of customers admit that their experience with returns influencers their perception of the brand and determines whether they will even buy from this retailer again.
Return customers are vital for online stores as retaining existing customers is more financially advantageous than attracting new ones.
Therefore, it’s important to offer an effective return policy that provides your buyers with the ability to correct any order mistakes. A well-written return policy also offers your online store with a possibility to satisfy your buyers to your best ability without being taken advantage of.
Best Practices When You Write a Return Policy
1. Avoid Copy-Pasting
Copy-pasting another successful online store’s return policy may seem like a good option. However, it’s not. One size doesn’t fit all, and there may be intricacies that will not apply to your business. Something that may work for a larger business may also not work for you.
Using other return policies as inspiration is a completely different thing. If you have never written one before, you can read through what others offer and gather ideas that would benefit your online store.
2. Use Plain and Simple Language when You Write Your Return Policy
There is no need to appear like a lawyer if you aren’t one. Complex terminology that may require a dictionary is something you should avoid. Instead, write your return policy in the say way you would speak, use simple and succinct sentences, and don’t be afraid to show your personality.
Your buyers are likely already busy and overwhelmed and will appreciate a return policy that simple and easy to read.
If you have customers whom you’ve been able to satisfy with your returns, don’t hesitate to include their testimonials in your return policy. Customer feedback is essential and can provide the necessary social proof to encourage people less experienced with your brand to purchase from you.
3. Include the Essential Information
White your return policy in a way that clearly outlines what is expected from your buyers and what they can expect from you. This will eliminate any possible doubts, loopholes, and an avalanche of clarification e-mails that you may need to answer.
A few points that you should cover in your return policy are:
- What is the deadline for your e-commerce store to accept refund requests? Does it apply for all of your products, or does it differ?
- Will you offer full or partial refunds? How about exchanges?
- What is your return address?
- Can customers return gifts? If so, is a receipt or an order number required? You may want to require these as that would prevent your online store from receiving fraudulent refund requests.
- Do you offer refunds for products that are on sale?
- What process should buyers follow to return products?
- Who covers the costs of shipping the item back to you?
- Will you require packaging to be unopened? What condition should be items be in? How about labels and other materials such as user manuals? Should they be present? Make sure to factor those in as those are assets that affect product price and your profits or losses.
4. Make Your Return Policy Easily Accessible
Ensure that your customers can easily locate your return policy. Place in a dropdown menu of your navigation menu or in your footer. In addition to those, place a link to your return policy in the confirmation e-mails that your buyers receive after purchasing your products.
Such an approach will ensure that you appear as transparent as possible and make an impression that you place your customers’ satisfaction above your profits.
While it may be a tedious task to write a return policy that is straightforward and effective, make sure to take some time and do so before you even offer your products for sale. If you already sell products, but do not have a return policy yet, dedicate some time to craft one, for instance, during slower periods when your business may not be making as many sales. This will ensure that your customers are satisfied and your online store avoids any unnecessary problems.
Does your online store have a return policy? What terms do you offer?