The customer experience doesn’t end at the checkout.

In business, customer satisfaction is king. And when it comes to eCommerce business, your return policy can make or break you.

Despite the temptation to see the return process as an inconvenience, in reality, it’s a genuine opportunity for brand building.

There are a few key principles around return policies that will make life much easier for you and your customers. So, what does a good return policy look like?

1. Make your return policy visible & transparent

Policy check

Managing expectations is the basis of any successful relationship and clarity is your best tool for setting customer expectations.

Rather than burying your terms and conditions deep in the fine print, make sure all pertinent details regarding returns are easy to find (and simply worded).

When customers can see that they’re not getting trapped in a dodgy deal, it builds trust and makes them more willing to come back and spend money on your brand.

2. And make the return process simple (duh)

Policy simple

It’s one thing to make your policy readable, but that only goes so far if the actual process of returning items is difficult or unfavorable to your customers. Don’t frustrate the people that give you money.

Successful brands tend to offer free returns (for a limited time) and exchanges (less delivery), or added treats in the event of a brand error (see point 3). In any case, customers should not feel put out by having to return a product.

By discouraging returns through a costly or convoluted process, maybe you avoid having to refund one transaction, sure, but you’re likely losing a lot more in potential repeat business. Nabbing new customers is way more costly than keeping around the ones you already have.

In addition to helpful info on your website, you could include instructions and addresses for returns on the product packaging itself. Customers might also appreciate the option of returning to a brick and mortar address—instead of shipping—to ensure they get the exchange right and avoid yet another interaction.

3. Seize the opportunity for great customer service

Customer service

In a crowded online marketplace, excellent customer service is a necessity. Customers reserve the right to be indecisive since they’re the ones spending the money.

A live chat function on your site can help to answer FAQs and guide users through the transaction. Successful brands use this feature to pounce on customer dissatisfaction and put out potential fires. This is crucial on social media where word spreads awfully fast. In your dealings with customers, be friendly, understanding, and prompt in helping to resolve their issues.

An exchange is preferable to a return so, if possible, suggest alternative products that they could replace their initial purchase with. However, if a swift return and refund is all they want, don’t lay out more obstacles in their way.

If there is fault on behalf of the brand—either with the product or the delivery process—consider offering free shipping, a discount, or future in-store credit so customers don’t feel short-changed or disrespected.

4. Accept that returns are inevitable (while minimizing their likelihood)

Customer shopping

Death, taxes, and product returns. You need to make peace with it.

We’ve all returned things—it’s nothing personal against that particular brand. Maybe it was the wrong size. Maybe it was bought for someone else who had no use for it. Maybe it wasn’t quite what they were expecting.

The chance of returns for online purchases is even greater when you consider people are buying products without physically holding it or trying it out. It’s easy to see returns as a failure when viewed from the brand side, but really it’s an opportunity to build value and goodwill through slick customer service.

That said, you’d rather not have to build your brand strategy around returns. So anything you can do to minimize their occurrence is going to save you time and money. For example...

5. Ensure the customer journey is streamlined & consistent

Customer journey

Shopping should be easy. Reducing the distance between consideration and transaction is central to a successful online business. Therefore the customer journey on your site should be simple and intuitive.

If users run into obstacles or something that doesn’t make sense, they’re unlikely to part with their money in the first place. If they do complete the purchase despite a convoluted process, there’s a higher chance they’ll make a mistake, become frustrated, and avoid your brand in the future.

And finally...

If you’re shipping goods back and forth for refund or replacement, it helps to know you’re using a sustainable, efficient courier service with the best parcel delivery prices guaranteed. That’s Sendle.

Send your parcels

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