Returns Policy Best Practices
If you’ve put a lot of effort into writing your product descriptions, getting your keywords correct, carefully optimizing your images (including alt tags) and producing outstanding product videos, congratulations!
You’ve done almost everything you need to do to convert a shopper into a buyer… Almost.
If you’ve overlooked these returns policy best practices, shoppers will still abandon your carts in droves.
Make it Easy to Read
OK, so you paid some high-powered lawyer’s hourly rate to develop your returns policy and you’re confident your back door is guarded. Good for you. However, if you want anyone to read that policy, it’d better be written in down-to-earth language that everybody can easily understand.
First of all, if it’s written in “legalese”, people are going to think you have something to hide, which will lead to distrust. Second, if it’s easy to understand, they’ll know what to expect when they call your customer service team.
All too often, returns policies are written to deter returns, which also renders them highly effective at deterring sales. Let your shoppers know you got them if something goes sideways and they’ll be more willing to spend money with you.
Make it Easy to Find
Always include a link to return policy on each and every product page on your site—period.
Yes, we know it sounds counterintuitive; as if you’re saying “We know you’re going to want to return this because it’s crap.” But the reality is, shoppers are more willing to take a chance on “crap” if they know they have an out if it stinks.
Giving them ready access to that information builds their confidence, says you’re on the up and up and makes it easier to feel good about doing business with you.
Further, when somebody requests a return, don’t argue with them; accept it happily. Otherwise, you’ll dissuade them from ever buying from you again.
Make Them Free of Charge
There are a number of costs associated with returns.
You’re looking at the time and effort of somebody on your staff to take it in, look it over and determine if there’s really a problem with it and get it ready for sale. If it came in a box, you’ll have to resell at as “refurbished”, which means you’ll make less profit on it when it does sell again.
However, if you charge people to return items, you’ll make fewer sales and you’ll still have returns.
With that said, if you offer free shipping, it’s OK to charge people to ship the item back to you, but whenever possible, make returns gratis. And, brag about it, loudly, repeatedly and consistently. You’ll stand out from all of your competitors who don’t.
Make Them Easy to Accomplish
In addition to spelling out your return policy on your site, include return information in the package, so your customers have ready access to it if they need to send something back. What’s more, the better free ecommerce website platforms allow you to accommodate returns on the site.
This cuts down on the issues your receiving department will face when the product comes back, it also says you are first and foremost about enhancing the quality of your customer’s lives.
Depending upon the nature of the product, you might even include a return envelope, so all they have to do is seal and drop it with a carrier to get back to you.
Prevent Them in the First Place
Inspect all outgoing shipments carefully to ensure they are the right size, the right color, the right product, and undamaged. These four steps will cut down on most returns right away, as they are the most common reasons people reject ecommerce products.
Beyond that, take care to ensure your product descriptions, photography and videos depict the product as accurately and thoroughly as humanly possible. This will help keep expectations aligned with reality. When it comes to returns policy best practices, this one is the most important of all.