Did you know that consumers are 3 times more likely to return a product purchased online than from a store? Also, that 48% of consumers returned an online purchase last year? These and more similar statistical data should make every business owner who operates an online store take a closer look at their ecommerce returns policy. Why? Because the rules you set in this policy and the ease to understand by the client will determine whether the clients who return a product will ever buy from you again.
As the ShipBob survey cited above shows, 95% of consumers will buy from the same online store again, if their ecommerce returns policy was simple and easy to follow. On the contrary, if they find the return process difficult and too long, they are 30% less likely to make another purchase.
The Penalty for a Burdensome Ecommerce Returns Policy: Lost Customers and Brand Reputation
In the age of social media, your business stands to lose more than one customer if they could not return a product easily and get their money back. A complaint on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter that tags your business name will reach a lot of people. Not only the consumer’s social media friends, but your own page followers may find that post.
And it takes very little – just one complaint – to plant the seed of mistrust in their mind. From this instance to a lost customer the journey is short and sometimes impossible to revert. The question is: can you do anything to prevent this from happening?
The answer is: yes, you can. If your ecommerce returns policy is clear, with simple procedures and as little friction for the customer as possible, you can keep your hard won clients.
How Does a User Friendly Ecommerce Returns Policy Look?
To help you out, we put together a few best practices that you should follow in creating or updating the product returns policy for your online store.
1. Make It Simple – Really Simple
The rule of the thumb should be that even child should be able to understand your ecommerce returns policy. Use simple and clear sentences. Make the rules straightforward. Provide the information in simple English, free of complex legal terms.
Unless you sell exclusive and very expensive products, your clients come from all walks of life. Some are college graduates, others barely finished high school. Thus, you should make sure that each of these people can follow the instructions without effort.
2. Create Your Own Policy (AKA Don’t Copy Someone Else’s)
Why should you bother with the work of creating an ecommerce returns policy when there are so many of them floating online? There are to big NOs for this practice. One is the risk of being sued for plagiarism (especially if that company paid an attorney to draft their policy).
Second, this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Your logistic processes are not the same as those of another company. Instead of chopping and editing someone else’s text, sit down before the computer and write your own, in your words.
3. Don’t Play Hide and Seek with Clients
In other words, don’t hide your ecommerce returns policy somewhere in the footer of your site, where it is hard to find. It is not a treasure hunt, it is a customer’s legitimate interest to know how they can get their money back if the product is not what they wanted.
After all, you have nothing to hide. You want to keep your customers happy and find mutually beneficial solutions for the situation when they want to return a product.
4. Offer Multi-Channel Return Options
Some businesses run both an online store and a brick and mortar shop. In this case, your policy should allow customers to use any channel they wish to return a product. For some people, although they ordered online, it is more hassle-free to walk into a store and hand the product. Others are busy and want to use the online form to return an item bought in a store.
Whichever the case may be, the golden rule is this: make it as easy as possible for any customer to return the product.
5. Watch Your Language
Of course, we don’t refer to using profanities or anything similar, but some unfortunate phrases and words which put off customers. Some of these are:
- You must
- You are required
- We are not responsible for.
Even if you have some rules regarding items which cannot be returned (for instance, underwear after being worn), phrase the idea in a polite and friendly way, that will not antagonise your client.
Last but not least, educate and train all your staff on the latest ecommerce return policy in force. There is nothing more upsetting for a client (who is already upset by the purchase) than a clueless customer assistant who is no help at all to them.