This is a guest post from Michael Folling. Michael is the founder of Limitless Designs and author of 101 eCommerce Tips. He enjoys building brands and writing about eCommerce. Follow him on Twitter to chat about eCommerce.
How much thought have you put into crafting a return policy or communicating what your policy is to your customers?
If the answer is “not much,” then you’re probably like most eCommerce entrepreneurs who consider their return policy an afterthought.
While it might not be as important as product quality or pricing, it can still be a powerful tool to help convert customers and retain existing customers.
So if you haven’t put any thought into your return policy, or are just looking for a little inspiration about how to make your existing policy better, keep reading for inspiration from some great examples of return policies from other eCommerce retailers.
Why Is Your Return Policy Important?
Before we dive into some examples, it’s helpful to understand the importance of a good return policy.
An eCommerce company’s return policy is essentially a marketing tool. When a potential customer is making a purchase decision, especially if it’s a large purchase, your return policy can be the deciding factor whether they pull out their credit card or not.
This is even more important if you’re not competing on price. If you your products are not unique and the prices are the same as your competitors, then you need to stand out in other ways.
Some ways you can do this are with fast shipping or through customer service, and your return policy is a great opportunity to provide excellent customer service.
To put this into perspective, one study found that consumers were more likely to make a purchase with retailers that had favorable return policies. What’s more, those consumers were even willing to spend more for the option to return their items!
Examples Of eCommerce Companies With Great Return Policies
Since many retailers don’t put a lot of thought into their return policies, it can be hard to find good examples online. However, there are a few companies out there that are doing it well.
You’ll notice that the examples from the companies below stand out from the pack with generous return policies, humor, and an overall positive approach to returns and exchanges from their customers.
So without further ado, here are 4 of the best return policy examples from eCommerce companies around the web.
Ikea’s return policy stands out in a couple of ways.
First, they offer a generous 365 days to their customers to return or exchange their items. This is a great value proposition because it it’s considerably longer than the 30 – 60 days you usually see online.
Second, what I really love about their policy is the language they use. You’ll notice that there are a lot of references to “love” which drives the point home about how much they want their customers to be satisfied with their purchase.
Like Ikea, Zappos also gives their customers 365 days to return their items, but Zappos has figured out a way to improve on this already-generous return window.
With the Zappos VIP program, buyers get a benefit called “Rapid Refunds,” which immediately refunds customers’ money as soon as UPS scans the return package. This means their customers get a refund even faster, which leads to a better experience and more loyalty.
Certain products require a well-thought out return policy because they’re difficult to return.
For example, a mattress can be difficult to ship (or return if the need arises) so it’s important to alleviate any fears that your customers may have before they choose a brick-and-mortar brand over yours.
Casper does a great job of this with their 100-night trial. Not only do they give their customers an ample amount of time to decide whether their product is right for them, but they also offer a nice solution for returning their products.
Should a customer decide that their bed isn’t a good fit, they’ll arrange to pick it up and donate it to a local charity. This way, their customers don’t need to feel bad about their decision.
4) Fetch Eyewear
Speaking of generous policies, Fetch Eyewear really takes it to another level with their lifetime warranty. While a warranty isn’t necessarily a return policy, it does cover a popular reason why customers return their products; They’re not satisfied with the quality.
Fetch’s lifetime warranty signals to their customers the quality of their products, which is a compelling reason to choose them over their competition.
Tips For Writing A Great Return Policy
1) Use Video
Regardless of how often consumers shop online, it’s safe to say they get a little anxiety at the thought of having to deal with returns. This is especially true with fashion products, because everyone is different.
To help reduce the anxiety around returning an item, consider creating videos that are easy for your customers to digest, so they don’t have to read about the process in your help center or call your support line.
Here are some videos that Bonobos created that describes their return process to help their customers deal with the uncertainty.
2) Give Your Return Policy A Memorable Name
While it might seem small, giving your return policy a name is an easy way to stand out from your competition, and makes it easy for customers to search.
For example, Vuori calls their return policy an Investment In Happiness.
This is a nice way of highlighting the fact that they want their customers to be happy, no matter the reason for returning an item.
3) Give Your Customers Options
For a truly omnichannel eCommerce experience, give your customers the option of returning their items in-store like Nordstrom does.
Don’t have a brick-and-mortar location? Consider partnering with a brick-and-mortar retailer that you have synergy with to help you process returns, or use a service like Happy Returns.
4) Make Your Policy Easy To Find
There’s no quicker way to ruin the customer experience than to make it difficult for your customers to figure out how to return an item.
While it might seem intuitive to display your return policy clearly in the header or footer of your website, you would be surprised how many retailers make their customers hunt for this information.
If your return policy helps differentiate you from your competitors, display it front and center and embrace the fact that some customers will unfortunately need to return their items. Just make sure to use it as an opportunity to gather feedback and turn them into a repeat customer.
Hopefully the examples and best practices above gave you the inspiration you needed to create a return policy of your own that has a positive effect on your business.
However, if you’re still stumped about where to begin, Shopify put together a return policy template that you can borrow to help you get started.