How to Create and Implement a Workable Return Policy
Like any brick and mortar store, an online retail business needs a good, solid, fair to all and workable return policy. However good a business and its products are, there are always going to be those souls who will ask – sometimes nicely, sometimes not so nicely – to send something back and having a set policy for returns, while not always a legal requirement, is a good business must.
By having a fair, clearly stated policy a business can earn a customer’s trust and a well handled return has often resulted in a business gaining a future customer for life. Just ask Zappos, they built the concept into their business model and it has worked like a charm.
Not every e-tailer does have a good return policy though and even if they do in theory somehow it gets lost in the shuffle and never quite makes it to the retail website. Or they do have one but it is about as clear as mud.
If your current return policy is not clear, or you don’t have one at all, here are some tips for creating, and enforcing, a policy that is fair for all and maybe even great for your future profits.
Few Sales are Final
There are not too many successful stores and retailers, on or offline, that get away with not accepting returns and still stay in business. There are some occasions when you should not accept a return – if an item was consumer damaged or it is of an intimate nature for example – but most consumers understand such circumstances.
If a customer simply does not like something don’t make it too hard for them to return the item and if your products are generally good they are probably still going to shop with you again anyway.
Avoid Using Too Much Legalese
When drafting your official return policy avoid the use of the kind of ‘legalese’ that is hard for a non law school grad – or at least a long time fan of Law and Order – to understand and stick to plain, easy to understand English to avoid misunderstandings while also helping people to feel more comfortable about buying from you.
There are very important things that your policy should make crystal clear and should include:
- The timeframe for returns
- The method of return (ie: customer pays postage)
- The item condition for return (ie: in box only, with all tags etc.)
- The method(s) of refund (ie: cash, store credit, exchange only)
When you have devised your policy, resist the temptation to bury it deep in the site in order to keep more ‘useful’ content visible. Post your return policy where it can be easily seen even if you simply post a link to a deeper page on each retail/product page.
Be Careful with Rule Bending
Occasionally you may get a customer who is so nasty, or who has a really good sob story, and you may feel that issuing a refund when their case does not meet your guidelines is simply the easiest way to go. However, do it for one and the chances are you will end up doing it for lots of people. Craft a policy and stick to it, doing so is fairer for everyone involved.