Return Policy Tips That Keep Customers Coming Back

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Creating a good return policy for orders is one area where new e-commerce businesses often fall short.

No matter how great your wares, customers will sometimes send back what they buy from you, especially when it comes to purchases that have to fit physiques and personal tastes, like clothes and shoes.

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I work with a lot of small e-commerce businesses, and I’m always impressed with the big strides these little operations make in a short time. It’s tough because they are juggling a lot of balls, so whenever I can offer some advice based on my experience as a fulfillment professional, I like to share it.

First things first. Decide how your returns process will work

Before you ship off your first package to your first customer, create a return policy and make sure all of your employees — especially those who field customer calls — understand it.

If you are dragging your feet, here’s a very motivating statistic from the National Retail Federation: 64 percent — that’s well over half — of consumers said they were very hesitant to ever shop with a company that made returning merchandise a hassle.

Make returns easy and fair

When you make your return policy clear, fair and easy, your customers will feel they’ve been treated well and will want to do business with you again. Easy returns = happy customers.

Here are several things to consider as you create your return policy and process:

How long will customers have to return an item? Create a window: 30 days, 60 days or 90 days are common. But be sure to put a limit on it. Don’t leave the time period open-ended.

  1. Tell customers what form their refund will take. Will it be a credit back to the method of payment they used? Or will they get a replacement? A credit minus shipping costs?
  2. Be upfront about who pays for return shipping. Customers consider it underhanded when they aren’t made aware of such costs at the outset.
  3. Brainstorm with staff on ways to make returns easy for customers. Look at how companies known for superior customer service handle theirs. Think about things like enclosing return shipping labels.
  4. It is wise to encourage customers to call a toll-free number so they can talk about why they are returning an item. This could help you identify issues with products so you can make needed adjustments.

After your return policy is created:

–Post it on your website in a prominent place. Make sure it is also included in any printed materials, like catalogs.

–Go over the policy with all of your employees so they can answer questions they may receive from customers.


Check out this article for steps you can take to reduce return frequency.


Sharon Vanover

September 30, 2018

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