ecommerce return policy

Increase Sales by Fixing These 4 Ecommerce Return Policy Errors

ecommerce return policyFor an online retailer, returns are an inevitable part of business. Yet, a lot of sellers have bad return policies. Return policies have more impact on an ecommerce business than one might think. A generous return policy, when properly advertised, can drive sales, increase buyer confidence, and create repeat customers. Studies show that 60% of online shoppers make at least one return or exchange per year. Additionally, approximately 95% of customers will go back to an online store and make additional purchases after a positive return experience. To ensure a positive return experience for your buyer, correct these 4 ecommerce return policy errors.

Error: Your policy is wordy and too technical, causing buyer confusion.

Correction: Make your return policy clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Online retailers often make the mistake of creating a return policy that is too technical, making it tough to understand. For most businesses, this is unintentional. But, there are several retailers who purposefully write a long and confusing policy in hopes of deterring buyers from attempting a return or exchange.

To write an effective return policy, outline the specific rules regarding returns. Give buyers a list of what you will provide (i.e. return label, packing slip, etc.), if you accept returns at your brick and mortar location (if you have one), and sufficient contact information, in case they need further assistance. Simple step-by-step instructions on how to complete a return will expedite the process, eliminate hassle for both parties, and prevent delays in processing the return.

Check out Zappo’s return policy below:

zappos return policy

zappos return policy part 2

Source: Zappos

This is an example of a good return policy. Zappos provides clear, concise, and easy to understand instructions on how to process a return. They also make it clear that their Customer Loyalty Team would be glad help you with any questions or concerns. This policy assures buyers that Zappos cares about their shopping experience, which leads to buyer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Error: Your return policy is hard to find on your website.

Correction: Make it as easily accessible as possible.

For many online retailers, finding the link to their return policy requires extensive searching. This causes buyers to think your business is indifferent. By making the return policy easily accessible, it communicates to buyers that you care about their satisfaction and overall experience. It is important to the buyer to know if a company cares about them. In fact, 68% of customers will stop supporting a brand if they feel that company is indifferent towards them . An easy-to-find return policy significantly lessens the chance that buyers will feel indifferent, and in turn, increase loyalty to your brand.

Problem: You require that buyers pay for return postage and/or charge a restocking fee.

Resolution: Free returns!

Offering free returns assures buyers that you genuinely care about them. Aside from providing great customer service, free returns make great business sense. Zappos offers free shipping both ways, and here’s why: Craig Adkins, Zappos VP of Services and Operations, mentioned that customers buying the most expensive shoes also have a 50% return rate. While that number may seem high, consider the shipping costs compared to overall sales. In the grand scheme of things, shipping costs are relatively insignificant in comparison. Given the data Adkins shared, if two customers bought the same pair of expensive shoes, one of those buyers will return them. Zappos would pay the return postage and continue business as normal. This minor inconvenience may hurt at first, but that customer is 95% likely to return and shop from Zappos again. At the end of the day, whatever loss you may suffer on returns, you will more than make up for it in return sales.

Check out Best Buy’s return policy below:

best buy return policy

Source: Best Buy

This is an example of a bad return policy. Best Buy charges a return fee that can get pretty expensive. For example, if you buy a DSLR camera for $600, you would be required to pay a $90 fee just to return the item. For most people, that seems outrageous…because it is. This causes buyer frustration, and could destroy customer loyalty.

Problem: You think just having a return policy is enough.

Resolution: Remind buyers by including return instructions in all packages.

Don’t let your website be the only place you provide buyers with detailed return instructions. Even though your policy should be easy to find on your site, not all buyers will check for it. Some aren’t tech savvy and others just don’t want to take the time to look for it. Reiterating your return policy and instructions by placing it in all packages, makes it much easier for buyers to perform returns. Also, this is a great way to provide buyers with the contact information of your support team. The more transparent you are, the better. When buyers feel that the return process is easy and hassle-free, it will establish buyer trust. In an online world where ecommerce lacks the face-to-face interaction of brick and mortar shopping, buyer trust is how we encourage loyal customers.

A transparent, easy-to-follow, and readily available return policy yields greater buyer trust. This buyer trust will build brand loyalty, which leads to increased sales and overall business growth. Make it a goal to reshape your return policy and enjoy the benefits it will bring your business.

Related: How To Use Returns As A Sales Tool

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About the Author


Michael Prendergast is a struggling New York Giants, Knicks, and Rangers fan. To cope with the constant disappointment, he spends his time reading and being a stock market enthusiast.

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Michael PrendergastIncrease Sales by Fixing These 4 Ecommerce Return Policy Errors