Earlier, selling your product on an online platform was looked upon as a cumbersome procedure. It was believed that e-commerce requires abundant labor and technology to run the business. But as the technology proceeded, so did the e-commerce industry.
Now, it has become relatively easy for consumers to place their orders and buy products from the comfort of their homes. This, in turn, creates a feeling of trust among consumers, making them return to your platform. In order to maintain this customer relationship, the return policy for the goods ordered should be as simple as placing the order. This article will discuss successfully implementing the return policy and some practices you can execute in your business.
What is a Return Policy?
To start with the basics, a return policy means the return of goods to the sellers from buyers. Most e-commerce companies have a return policy document that consists of refund information, procedure, requirements, time frame, customer support contact, and other necessary details.
Customers usually file for a return policy because of several reasons, such as faulty products, wrong orders, and varying products. It was estimated that at least 30% of all online products are returned. If the return rate is high, then business owners must run the return policy efficiently to ensure streamlining of the business.
Why Have a Return Policy?
A poll found that about 91% of customers believe that a return policy is important, especially for online businesses. As an online marketplace owner, your responsibility is to follow up on your customer’s feedback.
Designing and compiling a return policy’s features can be stressful, but it is a significant part of your online business. Let us go through some of the reasons why.
- Customer trust: Good and structured return policy always helps you build a customer trust that you can only dream of. Customers often check the return policy even before placing an order, as, in a survey, it was seen that 49% of customers check the return policy before buying. This suggests that customers have high expectations concerning the return policy. Having a solid policy uplifts the value of your products even more. If you have distinctly displayed a return policy in your description, it will help you build good customer trust.
- Increase sales and customer base: You’ll find out that the return policy builds customer trust and helps you increase sales and customer base. Customers who buy your products are likely to post good reviews about your return policy, leading to more sales and site visits from customers old and new. You can also use your return policy as one of your USPs to attract more customers.
- Save your and your customers’ time: A poor return policy often takes a lot of your time responding to customer calls. On the flip side, customers also lose valuable time contacting your business repeatedly to return the product. As a result, customers are highly likely to be dissatisfied with your services. This increases the chance of customers leaving your business for alternatives. Therefore, a structured and well-organized return policy saves time and reputation and helps customer retention.
- Professionalism: A pertinent return policy is a strong sign of your professionalism. It shows how responsive you are with your business and how much you understand the customer’s expectations. A professional and competent approach to your return policy leads to more customers trusting and purchasing from your brand.
- Prerequisite solution: Your business should be secure from every angle. It should be prepared for the upcoming risks or mishappening that might come along the way. The prerequisite return policy gives you a sense of security as you and your team are well-prepared for any possible outcomes in case customers are unhappy with the product.
How Any Online Business Can Offer A Competitive Return Policy
- Keep your return policy short: The return policy that you offer should be short. It shouldn’t be time-consuming to go through at any cost. This saves both the customer’s and the entrepreneur’s time.
- Return policy should be crisp and to the point: Keeping your return policy sharp and concise makes it easy for the customers to comprehend the process of return [policy] involved in it. You should put only the necessary information in your return policy description so that the customer immediately knows how to proceed with the return.
- Smooth process: Customers don’t have the time to contact customer service repeatedly. Therefore, keep the return process short and simple. Design the policy in such a way that the customers face the least amount of hiccups during the process. This increases your customer satisfaction score, which helps you gain a more loyal customer base.
- Use your return policy as USP: A strikingly valid and solid return policy can be used to promote products and services. Customers leave positive remarks/feedback on your platform, attracting other customers to buy from your storefront.
- Flexibility: Launch offers that provide a flexible time duration (of return) for the products in your business. You can also disclaim certain products that don’t follow the usual norms of a return policy. Moreover, always mention the specific period in which the product is returnable. For instance, it can vary from 24 hours to 3 days.
- Keep it updated: Update your policy per customers’ and business demands. This gives clarity to customers before they buy the product. Mark the instructions with an asterisk if certain terms in the policy are subject to change.
Where to Put a Standard Return Policy?
The places where you can display your standard return policy are:-
- At the description box
- Shopping cart
- Disclaimer after the product description
- FAQ page
- The website’s footer
- Product page
- Checkout page
Always ensure that the return or refund policy is visible to customers and that they can easily access it. If you have a return policy, but none of the customers can view or access it, it might create discontent within your customer base. In the case of return policies, putting all your cards on the table would be beneficial for your business.
Are Return and Refund Policies Legally Required?
While the return or refund policy is not a legal requirement, it has become customary for e-commerce businesses to have a return and/or refund policy. It is the responsibility of entrepreneurs to establish the policy in their business. The customer also has to accept the terms and conditions of the return policy before buying anything online.
How to Write a Great Returns Policy?
Display your policy
Never hide your return policy from customers. It is something to show off to the customers to increase sales and customer base. Maintain transparency with your customers to build a trusting relationship. This also increases customer retention, which helps in building a lasting reputation for your business in the marketplace.
Use simple language
Don’t use language which is difficult to understand. Keep it short, simple, and to the point. E-commerce businesses have a global consumer base, so English (or the language you choose) may not be everyone’s forte. As a result, many customers may struggle to comprehend complex words and sentences used in the policy. Moreover, most customers don’t have time to read every word carefully. Therefore, the policy should be written in easy language that can be understood without hassle.
Avoid the scary stuff
Extrapolating from the previous point, keep the policy tone comforting. Avoid harsh terms such as ‘you must’, ‘you are responsible’, ‘we are not responsible’, and so on. It’ll make your customers afraid of buying the product. Keep it simple and easygoing.
Outline the expectations
Outline the expectations of both customers and business. Customer expectations are an utmost priority, but it is also important to consider business demand. You should not feel pressured to give a 100% refund or 30 days return policy. Keep everything in mind, and only then plan out the approach.
Specify a time frame for returns
It is important to highlight the time frame for returns and/or refunds in your policy. Keep it somewhere between a few hours to a few days. Don’t keep it too long, as it may negatively impact your business. T Returning a faulty product should not take too long. Once the return complaint has been registered, make sure that you refund the amount and replace/take back the product within the time frame mentioned in the policy.
Define the conditions under which you’ll accept returns
Always keep things transparent from the beginning. Mention all the conditions that should be met for a product to be returned. Avoid imposing unreasonable expectations while underlining the important requirements. For instance, the product has to be in good condition, unaltered, etc.
Choose In-Store Credit Or Refund
Providing options between in-store credits or refunds can be great for the consumers, You can also do A/B testing to understand which option your customer base prefers.
Best Practices For A Great Ecommerce Returns Policy:
Set expectations for your customer
You should be able to clear all the doubts your customers may have. These could be:
- Proper procedure of return or exchange
- Details about packaging the product
- Shipping payment- would it be from customers or business end
- Time duration of the exchange
- Possible guidelines for return or refund
Educate your staff
Apart from customers, it is also crucial to keep your staff updated and educated about the exchange/return policy. Assist them at every step and educate them more about the legal terms and conditions of refund or return.
Be prepared to eat the cost of your mistakes
Most of the time, faults from the business end will lead to product returns. These may include faulty/wrong products or faulty packaging. Businesses should be prepared to accept mistakes and facilitate a smooth return process. However, their strict actions should be taken if you think the customer has damaged the product even more before initiating a return.
Disclose any fees associated with returns
If you have undertaken a certain amount of fees with the return, then mention it beforehand to avoid further problems with the customer.
Offer alternatives to a full refund
It is understandable not to have a full refund policy as it might affect the business, especially if it is a start-up. However, to keep your customers happy, offer them something else instead of a full return to make it mutually beneficial.