The holiday season is a stressful time for eCommerce businesses. There is an increased demand for products and businesses are working tirelessly to meet those demands. But probably the worst headache for an eCommerce business is dealing with product returns. There are bound to be returned products and it is growing every year. The National Retail Federation found retail return rates to be as high as $816 billion in 2022.
That is an alarming number. The best way to handle returned products is to have return policies with clear instructions. Returned products cannot be avoided. But that does not mean it is a great opportunity for your eCommerce business.
So in this article, I will highlight why return policies are essential. Also, I will share some tips for creating a better return policy for your store. So let’s explore how you can turn a problem into better opportunities for your business.
Why Creating A Better Return Policy Is Important For Ecommerce Stores
Writing good return policies for your store may seem like too much effort. That is until you find out that 67% of customers check the return policies before purchasing according to Invesp. Therefore, a good return policy is important for eCommerce stores.
Furthermore, the same Invesp study found that 92% of customers are likely to become repeat customers if returning products are made easy. A good return policy is key to that. With clear instructions and clarifying return conditions, customers can feel at ease shopping at your store.
As you can see, returning products is not only important, but it can improve your eCommerce further. You might face short-term losses with returning products. But you get more benefits in the long run for your business. That is why creating a better return policy for your store is so important.
10 Tips For Creating A Better Return Policy For Your Store
Here, I will outline and explain the tips for creating a better return policy for your store.
- Make Your Return Policy Easy To Read
- Use Brand Voice In Return Policies
- Define Product Condition For Return
- Clarify Return Period Of Customized Products
- Explain How To Return The Product
- Offer Multiple Return Options For Customized Products
- Disclose Fees For Returning Products
- Use Customer Support Service With Your Return Policy
- Use Customer Feedback To Improve Your Return Policy
- Promote Your Return Policy For Visibility
Tip #1 Make Your Return Policy Easy To Read
Complicated return policies can confuse customers. Customized products can have a lot of complicated terms. For example, printing a customized t-shirt can be done in many different methods like screen printing, direct-to-film, sublimation printing, and many more.
Since most online customers are looking at return policies it is not a good idea to confuse them with jargon. Keep the language to the point and instructions as clear as possible. This will ensure customers know what type of customized product can be returned.
And if you don’t allow returns on certain products like customized products or products on sale, then make it very clear you don’t allow it. Customers will be much happier knowing that before purchasing rather than knowing they can’t return the product after purchasing it. With an easy-to-read return policy, most issues can be solved.
Tip #2 Use Brand Voice In Return Policies
The return policy is also where you can showcase your brand voice. It is another way that you can connect with your customers. Showing that brand voice in the return policy engages your customers to your business.
Ensure customers of high-quality products and mention your values and goals when making and delivering products. Include messages and your company slogan in the return policy as well. Also, ensure customers that you will handle returns to meet their satisfaction. Adding your brand voice makes customers confident when shopping with your store.
Tip #3 Define Product Condition For Return
The customer needs to know in what condition they can return the product. If not, customers might return products not up to the return policy requirements. If the policy does not mention the conditions for return, then you are liable to replace the product for them. This results in a loss for your business.
Use keywords in the policy so customers know the conditions for product return. Words like ‘unopened’, ‘unworn’, ‘slightly used’, etc. The words will vary depending on the type of product you provide them. But with these conditions, the customers know they can return the product.
And if the returned product does not meet the requirements, you can refuse to refund or send back a replacement product. It saves your business time, money, and effort dealing with returned products.
Tip #4 Clarify Return Period Of Customized Products
The return period varies from one business to another. Some eCommerce stores will only allow returns for up to 14 days. Others might give their customers 60 days to return products. Shipstation says that customers need time to decide whether to keep the product or not.
Therefore, you should allow your customers the time to be satisfied. Mention the time they have before they can return the product. Just this simple clarification ensures customers know when to return products.
If they are happy, they will keep the customized product. If they decide to return it, comply with the return. Keeping the customer happy is what is important here. If they want to return their personalized product, it is another opportunity to meet their satisfaction.
Tip #5 Explain How To Return The Product
When customers want to return a product, they might not know how to return the products to your business. Specifically mention how they will return the product to you.
It can include the shipping address to your business and the delivery service customers should use. Your store is not liable when the product is shipped back to you. Therefore, mention delivery services with shipment tracking like FedEx or UPS. Additionally, you can also include a checklist of requirements for your customers. That way, they will know if they are eligible for return.
Once you have shipped the product for return, you can email the support team the link to the delivery tracking. This way, you can know when to expect the return product to come back to you.
If you have physical stores, you can also allow customers to come into the store to return their products. You should mention what customers need to bring when they return the product to the store. Receipts allow proof of purchase. In the physical store, you can offer personalized services to help them with the return of the product and offer alternatives.
Tip #6 Offer Multiple Return Options
Not all products can be returned or refunded. To meet customer satisfaction for returns, the best way to do so would be to offer multiple return options. It could be full refunds, replacements, exchange offers, or give them and store credit.
Multiple options allow customers to decide how they want the return to proceed. Zendesk has an article on how smooth returns can ensure that customers buy from your store again. With more options available, customers will feel at ease with their returns. In return, you get a returning customer who refers your customized products to others.
You can offer to replace the product for free or offer store credit so they can exchange for another product. Giving customers store credits encourages them to shop again and a chance to redeem any mistakes.
But if the product is faulty, you should be offering full refunds. For example, the product size is wrong. Or the print looks different from what customers wanted. With multiple return options, you allow the customers to know how they want to deal with the mistake.
Tip #7 Disclose Fees For Returning Products
Customers are often burdened with shipping fees when returning products. According to RetailWire, about 82% of customers prefer shipping fees to be paid by the business. These sorts of fees, along with others, are inconveniences for the customers.
This is why you should always disclose any fees that are included when returning a product. Whether it is shipping fees, restocking fees, or label fees, all of these must be mentioned in the return policy to improve it.
Disclosing these fees might frustrate the customers. However, It is important to be as transparent as possible about fees. If you can, your business should allow customers to return products with free shipping. This eases their burdens and customers are more likely to buy from your store again.
Tip #8 Use Customer Support Service With Your Return Policy
Returning a product is a hassle for customers to deal with. That is where customer support services can make your return policy even better. It reduces confusion for customers on where to start when customer support helps with product return procedures.
In your return policy, add how you can contact customer support to help with product return. Customer support can aid customers and create an opportunity for positive engagement. You handle the customer’s pain points and increase the chances of customers returning to purchase more goods from your online store.
Tip #9 Use Customer Feedback To Improve Your Return Policy
The best thing about getting a product returned is that there was something wrong with it for the customer. Don’t take it as a negative but as an opportunity to improve. Returned products invite customer feedback to improve your product and return policy.
For example, let’s say your product was on discount when the customer brought it. Your store does not allow discounted products to be refunded. However, this is not mentioned in your return policy. The customer can tell your store about this problem. Then, you can update your policy to reflect the changes.
You can ask for feedback with post-purchase emails asking the customers about their experience. You can include a section if they read the return policy and if they understood it or not. Customer feedback can improve your return policy to satisfy your customers. Always keep it up to date to help your existing and future customers.
Tip #10 Promote Your Return Policy For Visibility
If a customer can’t find the return policy, it will frustrate them. Putting the return policies in prominent locations will help make it easier to find.
Some eCommerce stores will hide the policy in the terms and conditions or FAQ section. It is not good practice because the customer will not likely check these places for the return policy.
Instead, what you can do for your customers is make it easy to find. Here are some places where you can link your online return policies:
- Homepage header and footer
- Checkout page
- Online receipts
- Post-purchase email
The header and foot of your eCommerce homepage are the most visible places. Having your policies in these places is a must for visibility. The checkout page also allows customers to know the return policy before purchasing.
Return policy links in the receipts make it much easier for customers to find them. They don’t have to come back to your website to find it. Instead, the link will take them to the return policy.
Additionally, an email to your customer to thank them for their purchase is a great place to put the return policy. You can have both the policy and the product return procedure links here. The customers don’t have to spend time going through the website again to find out how to return. It is good for both post-purchase engagement and customer satisfaction.
How To Decrease The Product Return For Personalized Products
Businesses that make personalized products are affected the most when products are returned.
Harvard Business Review comments that the rise in returned products is because of the leniency of stock products. However, the same cannot be applied to customized or personalized products. It is difficult to resell personalized products because of the customization. When they are returned you lose out on sales and stock.
The good news is customized products have fewer returns than most other products. But it happens because customers are unhappy with the end product. So let’s see how you can decrease product returns for your personalized product business:
- Salvage Personalized Products
- Reduce cost of customization
- User-friendly product personalizer
Salvage Personalized Products
It is not easy, but you can resell the returned customized products. Simple designs can appeal to a larger audience and you can sell the product if there are no defects. As long as there are no defects or problems with the product, then you can at least salvage the personalized product.
Reduce cost of customizations
Customization can increase the cost of a personalized product. It discourages customers from purchasing and also increases return possibilities. If your business model allows it, you can reduce the cost of customization. It makes customers want to buy the product and not feel purchase guilt resulting in product returns.
User-friendly product personalizer
A customer using a product personalizer creates a personal connection with the product. The better the interaction with the product personalizer, the less likely a customer returns the product. Take this store using a Shopify third-party product personalizer app for their custom t-shirt product page:
This product personalizer includes easy-to-use features like high-quality image uploads, real-time design visualization, showing price changes with customization, color choices, and the ability to personalize different parts of the product. In addition, it also includes promotional offers in the design lab itself.
These types of personalization are possible with the right product personalizer on your online Shopify store.
Giving customers personalization options while still ensuring quality is what you should be looking for in a product personalizer. Letting the customer design the product creates a connection. By connecting the customer with their product and delivering the personalization to them, you can help reduce returns for personalized products.
Overall, all eCommerce businesses have to deal with product returns. But this is a chance for your store to satisfy your customers. If you follow the tips for creating a better return policy for your store, you can turn a negative interaction into a positive one. With customized products, use a product personalizer that is right for your business. It can reduce the chances of returns for personalized products and help decrease returns.