An optimum return policy attracts a first time customer and will quickly turn them into a lifetime patron. A recent study performed by comScore and UPS found that 76 percent of all American shoppers check the return policy before making a purchase online. The study went on to reveal that 48 percent of shoppers would shop more often if the site offered lenient returns. They would also be more willing to recommend the retailer to family and friends.
Optimum return policies are not just ideal for American consumers. Even International shoppers look for lenient and easy return protocols. In Germany, it was found that 72 percent of consumers would more readily shop online if the return policies are acceptable.
Concerns of an Online Shopper
Factors that Contribute to a Return
Many factors contribute to e-commerce returns:
The product was not as described and did not match the online description
The item was wrong
The item was damaged during shipping
There was an issue with product quality
Was an unwanted gift
Buyer changed their mind
What Should a Successful Return Policy Contain?
Here a list of the key components of any successful return policy:
State how many days after receiving the item that a customer has to return it.
Explain how the buyer will receive a refund, either through credit or replacement.
Are there refunds on digital products or in-app purchases?
Outline who will pay for shipping to return the product.
Publicize the Return Policy
Online shoppers hate to have to search a site to find information on a return policy. You should boldly publicize the return policy. Shoppers should not have to hunt for the information or enlarge their computer’s font to read the policy.
You should boldly inform your customers about their rights to refunds. You will also need to include the three legal agreements that all e-commerce businesses should have displayed on their websites.
Return and Refund Policy: The return and refund policy of your company informs all users about your policy on refunds and returns.
Clearly inform patrons about your privacy practices. Let them know what kind of personal data you collect when they make a purchase
Any time you collect any personal data such as email addresses or names, then you must inform the user. You are required by law to let them know exactly what you will be collecting.
The “Terms and Conditions” agreement is optional but it is highly recommended. It will set the guidelines and rules for all shoppers when they register and create an account on your site to make a purchase.
The Return and Refund Policy of your business can be included under your Terms and Conditions or you can complete a separate agreement for refunds, exchanges, and returns. No matter where you place it, make sure it is clearly visible to your patrons.
What to Include in Your Return Policy
Here are the most important things to include in your Return Policy or Refund Policy:
1. State clearly the number of days that your patron has to notify you that they need to return an item after they receive it.
2. Outline what type of refund you will provide to your patron after the item is returned. Will you be supplying the customer with a similar item, store credit, or a complete money back guarantee?
3. Clearly, state who will pay for return shipping.
What to Include in a Digital Products Return Policy
The return policy on digital products tends to be different. Here are a few ideas on what to include in a return policy for digital products.
1. Boldly state if you offer a refund on any digital purchases.
2. Explain if you offer refunds for situations such as the download link not working.
3. Ideally, any return policy must be simple and easy to understand. It should not be long and complicated. Consumers want to read the policy rapidly and understand it without excessive thought.
Key Things to Include in a Return Policy
Here are the main topics that you will want to cover in your return policy.
Length of Return Policy: Most online retailers offer a return policy that remains in effect for 30 or 60 days. You can offer a return policy that lasts 90 days, 120 days, a full year, or a lifetime. When considering the length of time, extending the policy may cost you more in the long run. However, you should remember that only a small percentage of customers will use your return policy, especially an extended one. However, a long return policy provides valuable peace of mind for your patron and may make them a lifetime customer.
Processing: All returns need to be processed quickly and in a friendly manner
Store Credit or Refund: Many e-commerce sites do not offer a monetary refund but instead provide store credit.
Fix Any Problems: Always ask your customer why they are returning the item. If the item is broken or malfunctioning then you must make note of it. Always monitor why customers are returning items so you can notice any trends. If an item is continuously returned then you might want to discontinue selling it on your site.
Many small business owners balk at offering returns because they end up eating merchant account processing fees on purchases made with a credit card. There is also the additional expense of return shipping or shipping out a new item. However, a simple, easy, and generous return policy will gain you lifetime customers who will also promote your business to others.
When writing a return policy use simple wording and outline things in brief descriptions. Ideally, you should use bullets and make things very concise. Customers usually do not want to spend an excessive amount of time reading a multitude of details and clauses that only make things confusing. A compelling and manageable return policy makes your customers happy so they keep coming back to make additional purchases.