How a Great Return Policy Can Give Your Retail Business An Edge This Holiday Shopping Season
Any retail business, whether it operates online, offline or a combination of both, wants to be known for the high quality and variety of the products they offer. However, even the most exceptional of products can sometimes turn out to be the wrong size, wrong color, or wrong something, and the consumer – whether they were the original purchaser or a gift recipient (the holiday gifting season is coming up of course) needs to send an item back.
This is where a retail company’s return policy comes into play, and the ease and convenience of returning items can seriously influence whether a customer shops with you again or moves on to a competitor the next time.
A recent study on retail return policies conducted by the University of Texas-Dallas found that policies that provide more time for returns and refund a larger percentage of the original cost are the most effective in increasing overall sales. Although, we have to say, many retail business owners probably did not actually need a formal study to tell them that.
So what kind of retail return policy is best? Here are some tips for creating a fair for all return policy that satisfies your customers and keeps them coming back and yet still protects your business and its bottom line.
Create – and Prominently Display – an Easy to Understand Return Policy
When potential customers read your return policy, there should be no question in their mind as to what can and cannot be sent back and when they can do so. Be clear about the types of items that are accepted, the condition they must be in, and what (if any) time frame they must be returned within. You should also be clear about whether you offer money-back refunds or store credit.
Once this policy is written, ensure that it is easy to find on your website and that there is an option to speak/communicate with a CS rep before a consumer makes a purchase if there is an issue they don’t quite understand
Be As Generous as You Can with Your Return Window
Part of the great appeal for many consumers of buying goods online is the convenience of the process, so don’t turn that experience into a headache by giving customers a very tight deadline for sending back unwanted items. The same goes for brick-and-mortar stores — it might be difficult for shoppers to make a trip back very quickly.
Of course, it’s not always realistic for small businesses to offer an unlimited amount of time to return items, but be as flexible as you can, and check your competitors’ return policies to offer a more appealing time frame. That one simple difference may be the very thing that influences a consumer’s choice between you and a similar business.
Include a Preprinted Return Label in Packages
Make returning items even easier for your customers by shipping their orders with an adhesive return label and clear instructions as to how they should send back items should they need to. If you have brick-and-mortar locations and sell goods online, offer customers the option of returning the items to the store instead of shipping them back for the full ‘omnichannel’ shopping experience that so many of them are looking for today.
Solicit – and Listen to – Some Customer Feedback
What is the very best way to find out how customers feel about your return policy? Ask them. After customers complete a return, send them a short survey to find out what they did and did not like about the process and what you could have done better. Take their comments to heart and use them to inform policy changes.Koehler Home Decor is a wholesaler of home decor accessories and unique gifts. Source quality wholesale merchandise at KoehlerHomeDecor.com and find tips for promoting your business on our blog.