Did you know that at least 40% of goods purchased online are returned while brick and mortar shops deal with only 10% returns? It is also projected that in the next few years, the amount of return in the e-commerce industry will be more than a trillion dollars a year.
This is a growing problem in e-commerce businesses mainly because their customers do not get to feel, test, or physically look at a product before buying. Due to this limitation, it is vital to have an effective e-commerce return policy that will help protect your businesses.
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What Is a Return Policy?
This document describes the requirements and process of accepting goods back in your business in full detail. The return policy includes the steps that your customers should take when returning a product and also what they should expect.
A good online return policy will help protect your business from losses and ensure a good balance between attaining customer satisfaction and keeping your business safe. It should be engaging, informative, concise, and also very easy to understand.
Your return policy will reflect who you are. It should also make it easier to take care of returns and provide quality customer service. This means you should get it right the first time.
If you are writing your business’s return policy, here are a few tips that will help you create one that works.
Set the Return Time Limit
It is essential to inform your customers of how long they have before returning a product. Most online stores work with a 15 to 30 days’ time limit while some extend it to 90 days. The nature of your products will also determine the time limit you set.
Failing to set a time frame will mean that your customers can ship back products after several months or even years. This will not help your business in any way. You may also mention if they are free to use a courier service of their choice.
If you sell different kinds of products, you can consider setting a time limit as per the product categories.
Describe the Expected Condition of Returns
While it is good customer service to accept back a product if the customer does not find it satisfying, it is also bad business to accept back a defective product. If the product has been broken or used by the buyer, its value decreases, and you will not be able to resell it.
Therefore, when writing the return policy, you have to clearly define the condition in which a product must be in before you can accept it. If you fail to indicate the expected return condition, your customers can return a product in a very poor condition, and you will have to take a loss.
As you list the return requirements, it would be best if you state the conditions of the return. For example, you can state that they must have:
- The purchase receipt
- An authorization number
- Shipping address
- Original packaging
Whatever your conditions are, always ensure that your customer can read them before making a purchase.
How to Process the Refund
Customers can get their refund in several different ways. You can choose to offer exchanges, store credit, or a money-back guarantee.
Store credit will ensure that your customer gets their money back and they will have to shop with you again. This is almost a win-win situation.
Remember, refunds offer opportunities. You can choose to have more than one way of refunding your customers so that you can give your customers the freedom to choose.
Your customer wants to be sure that you plan to compensate them if the product is not satisfactory. This means your online store policy should include how you will refund them.
The main goal is to satisfy your customer, maintain them, and still make a profit. With store credit, your customer will also not feel pressured to choose what to get immediately. This makes it better than an exchange.
State Who Will Pay for the Shipping
Customers expect to have free return shipping whether they had paid for shipping before or not. While free shipping on the return may help you provide better customer service, you should ensure that you have a way to mitigate that loss.
E-commerce businesses have to make a tough choice between increasing customer conversion with free shipping and risking to lose a customer by asking them to take care of the shipping fees.
To make the best decision, you need to take a closer look at your business because, in the end, your goal is to optimize total cost. As you make the assessment remember, both choices pose some risk to your business.
If your customers have to assume any financial responsibility, try to spell it in the store policy clearly. This will ensure that you do not have to deal will upset and irate customers.
Keep It Simple and Precise
Write your policy like you would do a simple speech. Try not to act like a lawyer.
Give the policy some personality. Do not use jargon and verbiage that your customers cannot relate to. Your customers do not want to feel as though they are signing some legal documents.
Doing this will lead to a lot of in-service requests because it will leave your customers confused. This will cost time and money. Therefore, as you write the return policy, make it very clear and simple.
You also want to make sure that it is not open to interpretation.
Once you have written your policy, you should ensure that you display it so that every customer can read it.
Use These Tips to Write an Effective Ecommerce Return Policy
Your online return policy should cover all the points that will help your customers know and understand your limits regarding returning a product. The information you have on your e-commerce return policy should describe what you expect from your customers to be able to refund them. Try to ensure that you capture every detail without being technical.
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