7 Ecommerce Returns Policies that Customers Absolutely Love

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Summary

Effective return policies are crucial for customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Key strategies include making policies easy to find and understand, offering multiple return options and ensuring a streamlined process. Personalization, sustainability considerations, flexible return windows and covering return costs can also enhance customer experiences and reduce barriers to shopping.

Return policies can make or break whether a customer decides to shop with your brand, so creating and implementing effective return policies is essential. Let’s dive into the basics of return policies and seven different policies that customers will be sure to love. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Offer a return policy that is easy to find with clear instructions and transparent expectations.
  • Offer personalized policies with multiple return options and streamline the returns process.
  • Consider the environmental impact and impact on brand values that your return policy brings.
  • Provide flexible policies with free shipping for returns.

 

The Basics on Ecommerce Return Policies

Before deciding what specific return policies you would like your brand to have, it is important to understand the basics of what every policy necessitates. Here are some simple guidelines to follow throughout your entire return policy:

  • Have clear instructions for returns 
    • Make sure to include realistic timeframes for customers to complete returns
    • Be sure to explain whether a return or exchange is warranted
    • Clarify costs and fees and who will pay for the return
  • Be consistent, communicate throughout the process
    • Keep the customer informed about the return’s status through SMS, email or in-app
  • Use your return policy as a marketing asset
    • Display the policy on your site’s homepage, in marketplaces, in-store and in advertisements 
    • Allow your policy to evolve to any new industry trends or innovations
  • Provide excellent customer service and seek customer feedback

 

Next, determine what kind of return works best for your customers, your brand and the specific situation your customer is in. There are typically 4 different types of returns:

  • Product exchanges
  • Credit exchanges
  • Refunds
  • Canceled order returns

 

Typically speaking, the best policy for returns is to avoid them altogether. Returns have many costs: labor, reselling, transportation and the cost of damaged goods. To prevent this, ensure that you are utilizing verification technology. Also, allow your customers to edit their orders after purchase.

To avoid returns, it is important to take notice of patterns you see.

  • For example, if people often buy two pieces of apparel and return one, they probably don’t know their size. You can implement technology, use AI, or highlight customer reviews to show customers how clothes fit.
  • If one product has a high return rate, it may need to be removed from inventory or have a new product description.
  • If products are often returned due to damage, ensure that items are packed and shipped securely.

 

Now, let’s explore 7 different return policies that customers will love.

 

1. Make Your Return Policy Easy to Find and Offer Excellent Customer Service

At a time when return policies are a factor in deciding whether a customer wants to shop with your brand or not, it is crucial that your return policy is accessible and easily found. Implement an omnichannel approach, where the return policy can easily be seen in-store, online, in-app or in other marketplaces. 

It is also vital to ensure that customers can easily find answers to any questions. Be sure that your site is up to date with information and any answers to commonly asked questions. Chat lines and chatbots can also be helpful in providing customer service on returns.

American Eagle's return policy site shows easy accessible information and access to customer service.

American Eagle’s return policy is immediately visible on its help page. FAQs, a chatbot, a help phone number and a help email are available to answer questions.

 

2. Streamline the Returns Process

It’s no secret that online returns can be tricky, time-consuming and tedious for consumers. To combat this, brands can work to streamline and simplify the return process. Leverage automation to minimize steps of returns and increase efficiency.

Follow these guidelines to ensure a simple return process:

  • Ensure quick turnaround times
  • Provide clear instructions 
  • Give customers easy-to-use shipping labels
  • Be sure to have quick processing times

 

3. Personalized Policies

Tailored return policies are more likely to increase customer satisfaction. Use data on your customers to identify what behaviors they are following regarding returns. 

  • You may offer a flexible and free return policy if a customer has a high spend and low return ratio
  • However, if a customer has a high return ratio, you may want to charge for shipping and shorten the time frame on the return window. 

 

Utilizing AI can also be helpful for personalizing returns. AI chatbots are a great resource for answering customers’ questions about returns and giving personalized answers based on their specific need for a return.

 

4. Impact Beyond Profits

Brand values, especially sustainability, are more important than ever. More and more brands are utilizing sustainable practices, but ensure this follows through in your return policies. Embrace sustainability by promoting reusing, refurbishing and remanufacturing products and materials. Make sure shipping materials are eco-friendly so your return policies follow sustainable practices.

Consider using returns to create an even bigger impact. If possible, recycle or donate returned products. 

A page on Brooklinen's website shares information about their partnership with Good360.

Brooklinen’s partnership with Good360 has used their returns to help create social impact. Through their partnership, the brands work to donate any returned products to donation centers throughout the US. Not only does this help communities, but it also is a sustainable way to reuse returned products.

 

5. Provide Multiple Return Options

Customers are more likely to be satisfied when given flexible return options. Offer in-store or mail-in returns options to accommodate diverse customer preferences such as location, cost and convenience. Also, allow for different ways to return such as refunds, exchanges or store credit. By enhancing convenience and accessibility, your brand can boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Shein's website page shares their return policies with options to return in-person at Forever21 stores.

Shein has recently partnered with Forever 21 to increase the flexibility of their return policy. Customers can now mail in their return or drop their returned items off at selected Forever 21 stores.

 

6. Give Your Customers Some Time

As mentioned, flexibility is always a great policy. Give your customers enough time between receiving the product, researching the return policy, packing the return, shipping the return, and then receiving the complete refund or exchange. Take into consideration your customers’ different locations and the changes in shipping times during holidays or busy periods. Allow reasonable return windows to accommodate varying customer needs and circumstances so that your brand can create a positive customer experience.

 

7. Cover the Cost

Depending on the consumer and their shopping behavior, you may be able to cover the cost of returns. Many times, if a customer has to pay for returns, they may avoid purchasing from that brand in the first place. Because of this, offer free shipping wherever possible to reduce barriers to returns and enhance customer satisfaction. 

Sephora's return policy allows returns to be covered free of charge.

Sephora offers their customers free returns within 30 days. Returns include free shipping and a full refund if products are returned within the 30-day window.

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