Merchandise Returns don’t often conjure up the most favorable mental images. For the customer there is the disappointment of realizing that they must return their purchase, the frustration at the time spent returning the item in-person or preparing it to ship back to the vendor, and the uncertainty of whether or not to purchase a replacement. For the vendor, it’s the disappointment of a dissatisfied customer, the headache of the reverse-logistics process, and the worry of lost revenue.
With that being said, while the returns process is far from the most glamourous aspect of the retail industry, it is absolutely necessary, and plays an enormous role in the customer experience. In truth, a well-thought-out, customer-centric return policy can actually be mutually beneficial for both parties.
What makes a “good” return policy though? Further, how can a business properly implement a good return policy in a way that best benefits both their customers and themselves? This week on the Freightcom blog we’ll be examining the key points of a good return policy, how to best implement and execute it, and what it can mean for your business.
What Makes a Good Return Policy?
Admittedly, the term “good” is oftentimes quite subjective, even in cases such as this. Not every type of business would benefit from an identical return policy, and there are some things that you may wish to add or omit in order to create a return policy that best suits your business.
With that in mind, there are a few overarching characteristics that define a good return policy.
Make It Clear
At their core, return policies should foster a consumer’s trust in a brand. As such, a good return policy ought to be upfront and clear about your brand’s expectations from a customer, as well as what a customer should expect from your brand in return.
As a baseline, your return policy should outline:
- What products you can and cannot accept as returns
- The condition the products and their packaging must be returned in
- The time frame in which the products must be returned
- What, if any, fees the customer is required to pay
Make It Customer-Focused
While a return policy is, in a sense, customer-centric by nature, there are certainly ways to make yours clearly focused on the satisfaction of your customers. Examples of this can include:
- Offering free or discounted shipping on returns
- Providing a broad time frame in which an item can be returned (ex. 30 days)
- Offering multiple reimbursement options (refund, exchange, in-store credit)
Make It Concise
It is a notoriously well-known fact that, by and large, website users pay little attention to required documentation. In fact, a study by Deloitte famously found that 91% of people do not read terms of service conditions prior to agreeing to them.
Comparatively, over 60% of eCommerce shoppers will read a return policy in full prior to making a purchase.
By making your return policy concise and to-the-point, it is a show of respect for your customers’ time, and an easy way to improve your overall customer experience.
Don’t Be Shy About Your Policy
A well-written return policy means little if your customers are unable to find it easily. There are many ways to ensure that your company’s return policy not only is easily found but is even a focal point of your customer experience.
While it is best practice to provide a link to your return policy in the footer of your website, it has become increasingly more common for businesses to also add a link directly on the header of their homepage. These will often use phrases advertising “simple” or “hassle-free” returns.
Further, it is not uncommon for many companies to include their return policy as a physical document sent to the customer with their purchase. Doing this not only allows the customer to keep the information at hand more easily, but also enhances the unboxing experience.
Advertising Good Returns is Good Advertising
Beyond the clear benefit of making it easier for customers to locate your company’s return policy by placing it in multiple high-visibility areas, simply advertising the policy in such prominent places can hugely affect your customer experience. Bringing immediate attention to your return policy acts as a show of good faith toward your customers, demonstrating that your aim is their overall satisfaction.
In turn, this focus on customer satisfaction can result in a substantial return on investment by way of long-term customer retention; studies show that 96% of eCommerce consumers would continue to shop with businesses that offer easy returns on merchandise.
Freightcom Helps with Your Fulfillment Needs at Every Stage of Growth!
Despite the clear long-term benefits of having a good, well-advertised return policy, the reality is that much of the backend of that policy hinges on solid, affordable shipping for your business. Luckily, Freightcom can offer your business that and so much more!
Our all-in-one shipping platform provides exclusive rates on LTL and parcel shipments from North America’s leading carriers, eCommerce integrations, and more, all for zero upfront and monthly fees!
Contact one of our shipping experts today and let Freightcom help your business with the shipping strategy it deserves.