How To Write a Great Return Policy for Your Ecommerce

Davide Bessi

Davide Bessi

Digital Marketing Manager
ShippyPro

Returns happen...

You can do everything to keep your item descriptions accurate and your shipments secure, and they might still come back to you. This is especially true when it comes to fashion sales.

Returns are not something that you only need to worry about if you’re in the fashion world. Return rates are higher than ever and how you deal with them can have critical implications on your customers’ satisfaction.

In this article, we are going to learn how to drastically reduce the return rate of your e-commerce thanks to a Great Return Policy.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is an E-commerce Return Policy Return 
  2. Rates across Industries 
  3. 2019 Holiday E-commerce Returns Guide 
  4. Returns are the new normal 
  5. How to write a great return policy: 5 Best Practices 
  6. 3 Examples of Ecommerce Return policies 
  7. Wrapping Up
fashion branding

1. What Is an E-commerce Return Policy?

Did you know that research from Invespcro.com suggests 67% of online shoppers will check the return policy before making a purchase?

That’s why you have to deal with it. So, how can we define a return policy?

An Ecommerce Return Policy is the agreement where you inform customers about your policies regarding returns and refunds. Not a simple set of rules, but increasingly a real competitive weapon.

As every seller knows returns can be like a double edge weapon:

  • attacking profit margins
  • gutting conversion rates
  • ultimately threatening your business.

2. Return Rates Across Industries

According to Forrester and Star Business Journal the cost of online and offline return deliveries, only in the US market, are estimated to cost $550 billion by 2020, with an increase of 75% compared to 2016.

Going further e-commerce returns are growing even faster increasing 95% in the same period.

Aggregated and compiled data across industries confirms the previous data. As we can see in the graph below, brick and mortar return rates amount between 8% and 10% while online return rates at 20%, more than double.

The situation gets worse if we look at e-commerce marketing holidays. During this period returns surge to 30% or even as high as 50% for expensive products.

Return Rates Across Industries

 

The real problem is that your customers are buying from you intending to immediately return the items, making a speculative use of the return policies that companies have adopted.

3. The 2019 E-Commerce Returns Guide

According to 2018 Holiday Ecommerce Returns Guide by Shopifyy as a matter of fact:

  • 41% of customers buy multiple size or variations of the same product with the intent of returning;
  • 77% of online returns come from loyal customers
  • 89% of totale commerce customers have returned an online purchase

On the other side, companies are investing resources and money in personnel, warehousing and reverse-logistics technologies to stem these issues.

4. Returns are the New Normal

Otherwise, returns are the new normal and central to customer experience. But, they don’t have to be an issue, negatively affecting profitability. It can be tempting to try to eliminate returns.

Writing a Great Return Policy for your E-commerce is essential to balance the business and customer needs without damaging the conversion rate of the purchase funnel.

In the end, a clear E-commerce Return policy shows that you, the e-commerce business owner, stand by your product, and pride yourself on a great customer service experience.

5. How to Write a Great Return Policy: 5 Best Practices

When it comes to writing or updating an Ecommerce Return Policy, there are some rules that can not be ignored. Here we have summarized 5 best practices to write your ideal return policy:

1. Don’t Hide your Policy, your customers should be able to find information quickly and effectively. In this sense, the best place to put your return policy is in the purchase confirmation emails. Being your customer’s biggest advocate is a great way to foster lifetime loyalty.

2. Adapt the Return Policy of your Ecommerce to your specific business and target audience. Use plain english and avoid using words that send people running for a dictionary. Try to not use expressions such as “you must” or, one of the most used of all time, “we are not responsible for”

3. Tell the customers what they can expect from you, determine what is the best solution for your own business. You can even try  to do a A/B test to see which policy works best in terms of conversion, customer satisfaction and, last but not least, profit.

4. Be clear, don’t be confusing and try to answer to question like:

  • What’s the procedure for a return or exchange?
  • Does the customer need to use your packaging ora can they use their own?
  • Do they need to include the order slip?
  • Is there a limited time in which a return or exchange can be completed?
  • Who pays for the shipping?

5. Educate your staff and be prepared to mistakes. We all make mistakes but it is how you handle them taht matters.

6. 5 Examples of E-commerce Return Policies

Let’s see now three examples of the E-commerce Return policy. Check how the guidelines set out before adapt to the different business models

Remember that writing and displaying a clear policy reduce the time spent processing returns!

1) Be Clear: SanLorenzoBikini Return Policy

San Lorenzo Bikini does this extremely well on their Return policy page. They use design and clear language to communicate their policy.

2) Tell the Customers what they can Expect from You: AustinBazaar Return Policy

As you can image, returning a purchase is not a fun experience. Particularly if you have to pay for the shipping cost.

Austin Bazaar makes it clear that returns are totally free for customers. Furthermore, if there was a mistake or accident with the order, they will even pay for the shipping costs both ways.

 

3) Adapt to your Target Audience: RedsBaby Return Policy

Another good strategy is to help customers providing different options to arrange their own return.

In other words, keeping returns a low effort, experience keeps customers coming back in the future.

RedsBaby sells strollers and other baby accessories online, something that could be very bulky and difficult to return.

That’s why they offer a concierge return service for a small price. Simply email their support team and you’ll never need to think about the return. 

7. Wrapping Up

In conclusion, we have seen how an effective return policy can help your business increase customer satisfaction, its loyalty and the conversion rate at the time of purchase.

Then we analysed what are the best guidelines to follow to draw up a return policy that makes the management of returns simple from the point of view of the company and that of the customer.

Finally, we analysed some cases of how these guidelines can be applied to different business sectors. Now it’s time for you to write your own E-commerce Return Policy. Read our complete guide to Ecommerce Returns!

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How To Write a Great Return Policy for Your Ecommerce Returns are the new normal. High returns can also mean higher customer loyalty. In this post we are going to address how to create a great return policy.
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Davide Bessi

Davide Bessi

Marketers often find themselves caught between two opposite poles: the enthusiasts, and those who see marketing as an activity of hidden persuasion.
Inbound marketing means doing business in a human and helpful way, and this is what we are trying to do at ShippyPro. To create relationships that last and customers that stay, every customer-facing team needs to focus on how they can contextually attract, engage and delight your customers and continue to build trust in your brand. When I'm not trying to make marketers' reputation better, I love skiing, food tasting and crying for ACF Fiorentina results.

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