As tempting as it might be to sell something and be done with it, you’ll generate a lot more business when you accept returns. This instills confidence in your customers and demonstrates service is a priority for you, which wins you repeat business. Happily, you can accomplish this without giving away the store when you know how to create an effective ecommerce return policy.
- Tailor It to Your Specific Circumstance
While there are all sorts of great return policies out there (and it’s a good idea to read a number of them before crafting your own) avoid the temptation to cut and paste one from somewhere else. Your policy should take your particular situation into consideration, it should also be written to reflect your store’s overall tone, which in turn should be a reflection of your target market. This is your chance to demonstrate to your customers you will have their backs come what may, don’t waste it parroting someone else’s words.
- State It Plainly and Put It Where They Can See it.
Avoid legal-sounding jargon. The more down to Earth you make it, the more your customers will love you for it. Besides when you get all multi-syllabic on people it gives them the impression you’re trying to hide behind language when the whole reason for having a return policy in the first place is to demonstrate you have nothing to hide. Along those same lines, you want to make sure your return policy is stated where customers can see it as they’re contemplating the purchase. This means it should be outlined on product pages as well as checkout pages.
- Explain the Requirements
When you’re working out the rules you’ll use to govern your cloud ecommerce store, if you’ll need customers to pay for return shipping, say so. If you need the products to be returned with all of the packaging, tell them up front. Lay out all of the parameters around which you can accept the return and tell them what they get if they do it right. However, avoid using authoritarian language like; “You will be required to…” and/or “We will only…”. Instead, say something along the lines of, “Returns are cheerfully accepted! To help us make them go as smoothly as possible for you, please remember to…”
- Be Real About What You Will Do—And Fair Too
Accepting returns doesn’t have to mean offering refunds. You can provide exchanges, store credits and gift certificates; reserving full refunds for only the most egregious failures like malfunctioning or damaged items. In those cases, it’s just good form to offer the option of a money-back guarantee.
- Impose a Statute of Limitations
While some high-end retailers are famous for their money-back guarantees regardless of the date of purchase, this is something of an unrealistic expectation for a small ecommerce business. In most cases, 14 days for a change of mind return is more than adequate. Depending upon the price point of the product you might grant up to 90 days. Hard goods are typically covered under manufacturer warranties, so time limitations on those can be extended to match warranty periods.
Of course, when you’re considering how to create an effective ecommerce return policy, keep in mind the best one is to do everything you can to minimize the likelihood of a return. Whenever possible, test products before shipping to ensure they’re working properly. If the merchandise needs batteries to run, install them before shipping. Explain the operation of complex items on your site or produce instructional videos so the buyer knows what to expect. And finally, make sure your customer service people try to help consumers work through issues instead of conducting returns.