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How to Write an Effective E-commerce Return Policy

Buyer-friendly return policies are one of the most crucial components of a successful online store. By offering customers the chance to return their purchases (as long as it is within reason) you are bound to enjoy the confidence and trust of consumers in your online store. As this article from All Business states:

“An e-commerce site that does not inspire this trust in its users will do precious little business. One of the best ways to put customers at ease is through a well-though-out and prominently posted return policy.”

More often than not, online stores find it difficult to make return policies for their online stores for various reasons. Although it is true that crafting a customer friendly return policy is challenging, to say the least, it is not at all impossible. Here are some things that you need to keep in mind that will help you create an online store return policy that will help gain the trust of your customers and improve your online business.

Make It Visible and Accessible

Some online stores, in hopes of keeping the customers from returning their purchases, try to “hide” their return policies by not having a dedicated page for it on their website. They do of course post links to it, but the letterings are either too small or too imperceptible, and often times, the links are located way down the web page that online shoppers rarely scroll down to. This is never a good practice, and if you really believe in your product and stand by its quality, then you should make your online store return policy visible and easily accessible to online shoppers. There are several ways to do this:
  • Use clear and readable fonts in your return policy links
  • Have a dedicated page or tab for return policies on your website
  • Put links to your return policy page on your online store’s home page, footer, all product pages, and the purchase confirmation email
  • Print a hard copy and send it along with the customer’s purchase
  • Print a summarized yet complete copy of your return policy at the back of your receipt, specifically mentioning your website and contact number if the customer wants more information

Time Frame Limitations

You must also inform online shoppers how much time they have before the return policy expires. This is very important unless you want customers asking for a refund half a year after the purchase was made. Try to give a reasonable time limit in your return policy, which can be anywhere from seven days to 30 days. If possible, try to offer longer time frames for your return policy, like 60 days or 90 days. Online shoppers generally prefer shopping in online stores with longer return policy time frames.

Avoid Legal Jargon

Some online stores use legal terms in their return policies which makes it difficult for online shoppers to understand. When they can’t seem to make sense of your return policy, chances are they’ll be disappointed and frustrated and will start looking for another online store. Thus, it is best that you write your online store return policy in the language that your customers can understand. Make it short and concise, with an explanation of the legal complexities written in its simplest form.

Exchange, In-store Credit or Cash Refund

There are three common avenues that online stores can take after receiving a request for returning purchased items. You can either offer them the chance to exchange the item with a similar item, or offer an in-store credit program where the customer can use the amount to buy other items from your store. Some customers though, would prefer to get their money back. You can choose to offer any of these three or all of them if you want to.

Conditions for Returns

Be sure to be clear about your conditions for returns. Should the item be returned with its box and accessories? Should they send you a copy of the receipt? What about the Return Authorization Number? You should also clearly outline if your online store does not accept returns for some items. For instance, some online stores that sell undergarments do not accept returns for hygienic reasons.  Personalized products and perishable products should also be non-returnable. In addition, is the customer the one to shoulder the return shipping fees and restocking fees or you? Be sure to make this clear with the customer to avoid disputes with the customer.

Wrapping It Up

These considerations should be able to help draft a customer friendly return policy for your online store. You may employ the services of a attorney if you want to in order to avoid legal complications. Just remember to strike a balance between your business and the customer when making your return policy. This way, you are able to service the needs and requirements of the customer without having to put your online store’s success in jeopardy. Related Post: Reveal Your Secrets! Add Pages to Your Online Store


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