The average consumer wants flexibility while shopping online. Why shop online if it isn’t actually more convenient than shopping in a store? Anyone walking into a store has the luxury of asking an employee about that store’s return policy while purchasing something. Return and exchange policies aren’t so easy to find while shopping online because they’re often hidden, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that consumers value clear return policies and enjoy the flexibility of “hassle-free” returns. A fair and easy to discover return policy can be the difference in earning a returning customer. Here are some keys for crafting a return and exchange policy that works in 2018.
The most important part of having a return policy is to make it visible for all who are looking to shop. Make it available from the main menu, as well as on banners throughout the site. To ensure that there is no confusion, the best way to reinforce a return policy is to send it along with a confirmation email after purchase. Ensuring that a return policy is visible is key to maximizing the chances of brand loyalty.
Make sure the return policy is easy to understand. Be firm on company stances, but there’s no need to include fancy legal jargon here. Don’t scare potential customers away with anything vague and ambiguous, but rather, use this policy as another chance to showcase how much you value customer service.
Remove any language that could make the customer feel like returning an item is going to be intimidating or a hassle. An effective return policy should reaffirm that returns and exchanges happen. Replace passive language with brand appropriate courtesies like, “Don’t worry, it happens,” or, “We’ll take care of it.”
Layout a plan and stick to it. A return policy should be brief and accurate, and it should inform the customer of exactly what the process will look like. A loyal customer wants “hassle-free” returns. Keep in mind, 63% of online shoppers will check out the return policy before buying, and 43% of consumers said they’d be willing to shop more with a retailer that offers a clear and forgiving policy. Flexibility is what shoppers need.
Just like a customer can buy the wrong size of shoes, somewhere during the process of fulfillment, packaging and delivery a similar mistake can be made, and if a problem occurs with a package before it reaches your customer, be prepared to make it clear that you’ll take care of it. It’s also not a bad idea to mention that your policy may be updated in future, but that you’ll be happy to honor the contents of the policy during the time of purchase.
While it may seem like a lot of information, a return policy is all about transparency. Zappos.com is known for selling shoes, but founder and CEO Tony Hsieh hopes to one day be known for selling customer service. Their slogan is “Powered by Service,” and they offer 24/7 customer service by phone. Here is the return policy on their website:
Zappos customers get FAST, FREE SHIPPING on every order with NO minimum.
If you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase for any reason, just go through our easy online return process, or call us 24/7 to print out a FREE return label.
In a profile with Forbes, Hsieh said, "Hopefully 10 years from now, people won't even realize we started out selling shoes. They will just think about Zappos as a place to get the best customer service." Zappos return policy showcases just that for all to see.