A lot of e-retailers are so focused on the buying and shopping experience that they often fail to realize that what happens next is incrementally imperative to their long term success. So what is the thing that happens next? In a lot of cases, a customer may need to return an item. This is where your online retail returns policy goes to work. It can either help you or it can detract from your bottom line, long term retention and even conversion metrics.

There’s a lot that should go into creating your online retail returns policy. Things that should be considered include:

  • The amount of time that can pass to allow customers return a product after buying it from your store (30 days, 60 days, etc.).
  • Whether or not there will be handling fees and restocking fees assessed.
  • What items are allowed to be returned and which items are not.
  • The amount of the money that you will charge a customer for return shipping.
  • The rules of returns that you have in place regarding worn clothing, opened products and so forth.
  • The process that you have in place for processing returns and managing them.
  • The impact that your return policy will have on your bottom line and future sales.

Getting the right online retail returns policy in place is a necessary aspect of operating any successful online store. But before you get started in penning or revamping yours, there are some important elements that you should be aware of that can help you create a winning online retail returns policy for you and for your customers.

The Buying Experience

Your online retail returns policy begins with the buying experience. Did you know that over 60% of customers take the time to read this policy before they make a purchase, and a large majority of them are influenced by what your policy says? If your policy is not assuring customers that returns are simple and hassle-free, you risk them taking their business to a store that does.

Consider this food for thought. You visit an online store because you found a product that you really liked. The online retail returns policy that they are offering is favorable. The store is well-designed and you have a wonderful shopping experience. Everything was simple and easy and you got a great deal.

But, suddenly, you find out that the product that you purchased does not meet your needs, for one reason or another. Now you have to return that product. But here’s the kicker, and the most important point at hand: When you go to return this product, the process is cumbersome, time consuming and a real hassle.

How likely are you to buy another product from this store in the future? Rather unlikely, and about 80% of consumers would say the same thing.

Why It’s Important

For online stores to successfully compete in the present day and age of e-retailing, they need to assure that the after buying experience is as simple and as straightforward as the buying experience was. If it is not, consumers will flock to stores where they know it is. Plain and simple.

In order to attract consumers to your store, you need to instill confidence in your brand. This requires that you assure your customers that the after buying experience is equally as important to you as the buying experience was, and will be equally as straightforward and hassle-free.

Otherwise, you are merely telling consumers that you are happy to take their money, but if they have an issue with their product, so what… it’s not your problem anymore!

What Happens Next?

If you do not have a strong and favorable-to-the-consumer online retail returns policy in place, you are going to lose out on sales. But by how much? Studies show that over 80% of consumers want a convenient and simple way to make online retail returns. If you don’t offer this, they are 90% less likely to return to your store in the future to make a purchase.

What’s more, consumers are a lot less likely to recommend you to others, and are more likely to tell people to simply avoid shopping at your store because of the experience that they endured. Assuring that your online retail returns policy favors the consumer is not impossible. Just make sure that you bear in mind the importance of after buying experience when doing so.

Returns Will Happen

No matter what you do, returns can and will happen. About one-third of all products that are ordered online will ultimately come back to the merchants, so say expert studies on this subject matter. Knowing that no matter what, you will be dealing with returns one way or another is a good stepping stone for you with forging a strong policy that helps you attract more customers and sales.

Understanding that about 65% of all online retail returns are a direct result of the vendor and not the consumer is critical in you adjusting your mindset to be conducive towards favoring the customers. Doing so will actually net you more sales in the long run and will also result in improved customer loyalty and retention.

Don’t risk shunning your customers with a negative after buying experience. Make sure that your online retail returns policy is simple, hassle-free and as convenient for the customer as it was to buy the product from your store in the first place. Do this, and you can reap the rewards of strong sales and long term customer loyalty and retention.