5 Tips for Creating an Ecommerce Return Policy That Will Boost Sales
95% of shoppers that are satisfied with a business’ return process state that they’ll buy from that business again (Narvar).
Since online shoppers can’t use, interact with, or try out a product before they purchase it, returns are a very frequent occurrence in ecommerce. As much as 48% of shoppers have returned an item they’ve purchased online in the previous year (Narvar).
The inherent uncertainty of online shopping means that a lot of shoppers will take a look at your return policy before they make a purchase. If they don’t like what they see, they might decide to shop with one of your competitors instead.
This means that your return management policy can have a significant impact on your conversion rate, as well as your bottom line. If you want to ensure maximum profitability for your ecommerce business, you’ll need to create a good return policy.
Apart from guarding you from return abuse, a well-written return policy can also help to ensure customer loyalty. In fact, 95% of shoppers that are satisfied with a business’ return process state that they’ll buy from that business again (Narvar).
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at how you can create an ecommerce return policy that will boost sales and make your customers happy.
What to include in your return policy
While the exact contents of your return policy will depend on your logistics, industry, and the products you sell, you should include the following:
Which items can be returned (and which can be exchanged) - If you sell a variety of different types of products, you might want to offer returns for some of them, while disallowing the return of others.
Return window during which customers can return or exchange a product- It’s crucial that you mention the time limit for returning items (e.g., 30 days), otherwise you’ll have customers trying to return an item after six months, a year, or more.
Condition the returned item needs to be in for you to accept the return (e.g., with tags still on) - You should clearly state the acceptable item condition for return eligibility to prevent customers from returning items they’ve worn, broken, or damaged.
Fees associated with returns - Your return policy should let customers know of any fees that returning a product might incur, such as a return shipping fee or a restocking fee.
What customers get when they return a product - Make sure to let customers know what they’ll receive after returning a product (e.g., a full or partial refund, store credit, etc.)
Exact steps needed to initiate the return - Your return policy should also outline the exact steps customers need to take to initiate the return process.
1) Use simple language
Shoppers don’t have the time or patience to decipher a complex return policy when they’re trying to make an online purchase. In general, it shouldn’t take them more than a couple of minutes to read and completely understand your return policy.
Avoid using complicated language and legal jargon. Try to keep it fairly short and include graphics that illustrate the return process.
This will make shoppers’ lives easier and increase the chances of them deciding to make a purchase in your online store.
Strive to write your return policy in such a way that everyone will be able to understand it. Keep your brand’s voice in mind while you do it.
Here’s how Hyphen, an online mattress retailer, keeps its friendly brand voice throughout their entire return policy:
2) Offer free returns
If your profit margins allow for it, you should definitely consider offering free returns. Why?
Well, there are two main reasons:
62% of shoppers would make more purchases if a brand offered free returns (MHL News).
69% of consumers state that they avoid buying from online retailers that charge restocking fees and don’t offer free return shipping (Narvar).
That should be enough to convince you of the importance of covering customers’ return shipping fees.
Customers who are looking to return an item are already unsatisfied with their purchase. Don’t make them feel even worse by forcing them to pay for return shipping.
Doing so can only result in customers developing a negative image of your brand. One bad return experience could make you lose a customer for good, as well as any potential referrals you might have gained from them if you had provided a good return experience.
Zappos, one of the biggest online shoe retailers in the world, offers free return shipping on all of their products. The company also states that the customers with the highest return rates are actually their best customers (Fast Company).
3) Give customers more time to return their products
Most online shoppers expect to have at least 30 days to return their purchase (Narvar).
Offering a return window of 14 days or less doesn’t give customers enough time to make a decision whether they should return an item or not. This might make them wary of even making the purchase in the first place.
Only 5% of online shoppers return items more than 30 days after a purchase (Narvar), which means that giving customers more time to return their products might actually result in fewer returns overall by reducing urgency (ScienceDirect).
Target gives customers 90 days to return purchased items:
4) Create a hassle-free return experience
96% of shoppers who go through high-effort experiences when purchasing or returning products don’t become repeat customers (Gartner).
Don’t force customers to email or call you when they want to return an item. Try to automate the return process and provide customers with an easy way to request and manage product returns.
Consider shipping all your orders with a return label and instructions on how to return an item. Doing this will ensure that customers have everything they need in case they want to make a return.
Creating a hassle-free return experience will make shoppers feel more comfortable about buying from your brand. They’ll know that they’ll be able to return their items easily if they’re not satisfied with their purchase.
Making the return process effortless will give you a higher chance of turning shoppers into repeat customers.
5) Make your return policy easy to find
If you’ve created a great return policy, you need to let your customers know about it.
Put links to your return policy on your homepage, as well as within your order confirmation or shipping emails. You might also want to consider linking to your return policy on your product pages, as well as displaying it during checkout.
Displaying your return policy prominently will ensure that all of your customers are aware of your return conditions as well as familiar with the return process.
Create an ecommerce return policy that will boost sales
The uncertainty that comes with online shopping makes ecommerce returns inevitable.
Ecommerce businesses that want to prevent excessive returns from hurting their bottom line should look into creating a more effective ecommerce return policy.
Your return policy should be written in simple language so that everyone can understand it. If possible, you should offer free returns, as well as give your customers plenty of time to decide if they want to return their products.
Strive towards creating a hassle-free return experience so that you can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Finally, make your return policy easy to find by including it in a prominent place on your website, as well as linking to it in your transactional emails.