How easily can shoppers return products to your online store?
That’s a question ecommerce store owners need to answer before they take their stores online. Returns and refunds are just part of the game when it comes to selling products online. A comprehensive ecommerce return policy that effectively lays down all important details is important for smooth transactions.
- Why You Need an Ecommerce Return Policy
- Best Practices for Creating an Ecommerce Return Policy
- Another Important Thing…
Your ecommerce return policy outlines all of the conditions that must be met before you allow returns and refunds. Of course, there are numerous factors to consider when writing such a policy, including the state legislation and legal guidelines associated with consumer protection.
In this article, we shall focus on all of the important details associated with writing an ecommerce return policy and look at a sample refund policy or two as well.
Why You Need an Ecommerce Return Policy
So, why is an ecommerce return policy so important?
According to a study conducted by the NRF, returns for online returns were almost three times more common than in-store purchases. Almost 72% of shoppers return at least 10% of the purchases that they make online.
At the same time, many shoppers also state that they are not properly satisfied with the returns process. And around 30% of shoppers simply don’t want to pay the costs of returning a shipment. Clearly, since returns are a part of the average shopper’s customer experience, they need to be dealt with satisfactorily. So if you do not have an easy, well-defined, and clear strategy, it could simply put customers off from your business.
The manner in which you handle returns is an incredibly important part of the entire customer experience. If your overall consumer experience is poor, and your ecommerce return policy template is inconvenient and gets in the way, they will simply avoid shopping at your store.
A positive returns process is a step towards re-purchases.
Source: Red Stag Fulfillment
Best Practices for Creating an Ecommerce Return Policy
Returns policies need to be very clearly defined, and should cover each and every aspect of the returns process. Here are some important practices that you should follow when writing the policy.
1. Set a Timeframe for the Returns
Highlight the exact amount of time that customers have to return the products in your return and refund policy. The standard is between 15 and 30 days, though some businesses are generous enough to give a timeframe of around 90 days. Accepting returns beyond that timeframe will hurt your business.
If you do not disclose a timeframe for the returns, you risk your return and refund policy being abused. There are cases where customers often send back items after months, and even years (!), and this could just lead to considerable losses for your company and also bog down your logistics department.
2. Define the Conditions for Accepting Returns
You also need to explicitly define the condition of a product when it is received for a return. For instance, it should be returned to you in prime condition. If the product is defective, it should be returned with evidence the customer did not misuse it. Your support team should have guidelines to determine whether the product was defective out of the box or if it was broken.
Accepting a defective product is totally different from accepting a product that has been broken and used. You have to explicitly define the condition of the product in order to make it eligible for a refund. If you don’t, customers might start abusing your policy.
3. List all the Requirements for the Return
Furthermore, you have to list down all of the requirements before a return can be processed. You might want to add that all of the returns should be shipped in their original packaging, and that the packaging should not be torn or damaged. Make sure customers provide the original return or order number, along with the authorization details, shipping address, and any other details as requested.
4. Return or Offer Credit?
This is the most important part. You have to decide whether you are going to offer a direct refund or in-store credit. There are plenty of online stores that do not offer full refunds, and only provide in-store credit. However, this might affect the credibility of your store and put customers off.
A good way to determine what to do in this situation is to take a look at your competition. What works for one kind of product might not for the next. Depending on the niche that you work in, check out your competitors and find out whether they offer returns or in-store credit, or both.
You can decide to do both. Ideally, we suggest it’s best to offer store credit only for certain kinds of products, though you have to be very descriptive when writing down the circumstances in which store credit will be preferred.
5. Using Easy to Understand Language
This one is pretty straightforward: use easy and simple language that any person can understand. The more complicated you make things, the less easy it will be for the average customer to understand. Remember, customers are not experts in law, so it’s important that you simplify things for them.
The general rule of thumb in this situation is to write as if you are speaking directly with the customer. The use of first-person is advised, as it helps the reader relate to your document, and understand what and to whom you are referring to. Absolutely refrain from using legal jargon.
6. Disclosing All Relevant Fees
Disclose all relevant fees to the user so that they know just how much they would have to pay upon returns in your return and exchange policy. We have already discussed the possibility of users getting disgruntled if they have to pay an additional fee.
You can only establish trust with your customer if you are absolutely transparent about all the charges associated with the returns.
7. Adding a Returns FAQ Page
Customers might have a bunch of questions associated with the returns being processed on your page. A Returns FAQ page is a great resource for answers to basic questions, so that your support is not unduly burdened.
Update the FAQ page regularly so that you are able to incorporate more and more details with the passage of time.
8. Promote Your Policy
What good is an ecommerce return policy if people never read it? There are going to be quite a few shoppers who will get angry and will still force a refund or a return on you. So it’s important that you put visible links on your various pages on your website. People should know the process for the refunds; provide appropriate links on all major pages like your checkout page.
There should be a separate link at the bottom of your home page as well.
Another Important Thing…
The return policy should not be a document that you create in order to force customers to avoid returning products. The purpose of the policy is to lay down the requirements and not complicate matters further. Think of it as a way of talking to your customers and explaining the returns process to them.
There is a very high chance that your ecommerce return policy becomes the most commonly-read documents on your website. That means it has a role to play in creating a good impression on the average user. When creating the policy, take your time to come up with a suitable game plan.
There are plenty of refund policy examples of written refund policies that you might find online. We took the liberty to write some generic templates that might help you understand the general structure of a refund policy template.
Make sure you discuss the policy with your support team and heed their advice. It would also be smart to carry out a survey with your customers to find out what issues they face with returns, and streamline matters to make things easier for them.
By the end, you should have a sound policy that covers virtually everything.