Is There Room to Improve Your eCommerce Return Policy?

December 04th, 2019

Is There Room to Improve Your eCommerce Return Policy? 

Returns are an inevitable part of retail, and a good return policy is critical for retail success.  The most recent Narvar Consumer Report shows that 96% of consumers say they would shop again with a retailer based on a good return experience.  

In this article, we’ll explore why a solid eCommerce return policy matters and how to develop one that will serve both you and your customers well.   


You may think that a good return policy is more hassle than it’s worth. After all, there’s the refund, product inspection and processing, and then you have to decide what to do with the returned merchandise. Do you trash it? Repackage it and put it back on the shelves? Sell it at a discount? All of these decisions take time and cost money, which can hurt your bottom line if you’re not careful. 

So why is a well-developed return policy essential to your online business? First off, trust and positive customer relationships are among the most significant aspects of any business, but even more so in the online retail environment. In the online world, knowing that there is a good return policy makes customers feel safer about committing to items that can't actually touch for themselves. While it may cost you a little bit of money to process returns, the evidence is clear that a good return policy creates repeat customers that spend more money.  

Your return policy begins before a return. 

Nobody likes it when customers return merchandise, so the best way to keep everyone happy is to avoid returns in the first place. Knowledgeable and consistent staff are key to keeping customers enthusiastic about shopping in your store, and the more positive interactions customers have with your staff, the better. These interactions build relationships that promote store loyalty, which then translates into repeat customers.  

You should also do your best to make sure that your merchandise and shipping are the best they can be. Start by taking good, high-quality photos and writing accurate product descriptions. Your customer should know exactly what to expect. You should also have procedures in place for packing and shipping merchandise so that it arrives safely and in good condition. If you make a mistake with packing and shipping (and you will), own up to it and remedy the problem quickly.   

What makes a good return policy? 

Not all return policies are created equal, and they don’t have to be. That said, you should do your best to create a policy that reflects your business ideals..  

Start by using everyday language - your customers shouldn’t need to be lawyers to understand your return policy! Use positive language, and maintain your brand’s voice throughout your explanation. If your policy’s language is too difficult to understand, or the policy isn’t generous, you’ll only be deterring future purchases from your customer—not just their current return.  

As you write your policy, be sure to manage your expectations. Not every business can afford free shipping both ways and full refunds, so take the time to crunch the numbers before you create your policy. That said, don’t be afraid to tweak your it  to better meet your customers’ needs. Ask yourself the following questions as you hash out your company return policy: 

- Full or partial refund? Store credit, cash, or money back onto their card? Store credit or exchange only? 

- Do you pay for shipping or does the customer? 

- What is eligible to return? 

- What’s the time frame? 30 days? 90 days? A full year? 

Your return policy page is also a great place to post customers’ reviews. This strategy will make your company feel trustworthy and approachable. Once again, if you make a mistake with a customer’s order, fess up to it, and correct it as quickly as possible at your own expense. These kinds of positive customer interactions are sure to encourage brand loyalty. 

Another major aspect of a good return policy is ease of use. Start by making the returns page on your website easily accessible, whether through an image on the carousel, a button located under their cart, or a direct link from the menu. Include the return policy in your confirmation emails after each purchase, and make sure that your staff is trained to process a return quickly and efficiently. You can also have the return paperwork available as a downloadable PDF on your returns page so that your customers can do most of the work on their own time. This will free up your staff and make your customers feel like they are in control.  

Think it through. 

Unfortunately, you can expect to lose some money because of returns, but know that you would be losing potential customers if you didn’t have a consistent policy. Remember, your return policy isn’t a one and done – if you find that it isn’t working for you or your customers, go back and change it into something that works better.  

To learn more about enhancing your return policy, visit an Amazon seller event to hear from former Amazon leaders and network with top-tier sellers and service providers. You’ll come away feeling motivated and inspired and ready to implement a host of actionable ideas for taking your online retail business to the next level.