Ignore Bad Advice About Ecommerce Returns

Returns are going to happen. It’s just a fact of life when you are running an online retail business. How you manage them and appease your customers, however, can mean the difference between satisfied shoppers who spread the word or agitated consumers that never make a future purchase.

The reality is that your return policy says a lot about your online business. If you are unwilling to make returns simple and hassle-free, customers will just take their business somewhere else that does. With an umpteen amount of stores just a click away that offer a lenient return policy, there is not really much wiggle room for you to deter customers with your policy.

You’d be surprised at the crazy things we’ve heard about product return policies over the years. What follows are five pieces of the worst advice on how to manage returns that we’ve ever encountered. They go against everything that we’ve outlined in our guide on the best standards and practices for managing online retail returns. So without further ado, here they are.

Keep My Sales By Making Returns Hard

Some stores just make returns impossible. They require so many steps that you become frustrated even processing the return. And often their primary objective is to deny the return much like an insurance company would deny a claim. But the truth is that by making returns harder you are not going to keep your sales, you are actually going to lose long term business and create a negative reputation about your brand.

The truth is that you want to convince and convert with an online return policy before it’s too late. Shoppers make their decision in seconds, and studies show that over 65% of them take the time to read your return policy before making a purchase. If your policy makes returns hard, say bye-bye to a large amount of prospective customers.

7-14 Days Is Ample Time

Not really. Consumers have to wait to get the product that they ordered, which can take as many as 10 business days to reach their doorstep. By offering a 14-day return policy, you are basically telling them that they have about four days to try out the product. And with stores offering 30-day and longer policies, you need to make sure your return policy stacks up.

The truth is that lenient return policies increase consumer purchases, with studies showing that consumers buy a lot more when they know they can make easy returns. Another reason you want to offer a nice window on your return policy is because studies have found that in 65% of all instances of returns, the retailer is at fault. Key reasons products are returned this much include: wrong item shipped, not as described online, damaged or dead on arrival product.

Fees Reduce Returns

That’s the worst piece of advice we’ve ever heard about an online return policy. The truth is that if you charge customers a return shipping fee, sure they certainly will return fewer products. But that’s not because they will be buying more products. They just won’t be buying products from your store.

The truth is that easy returns get you more sales. According to a report that was published by Forrester Research, approximately 81% of all online customers desire a simplified process for returns management.

A more recent 2014 ComScore study that was conducted found similar numbers on returns, specifically noting that a vast majority of customers consider the returns policy a very important aspect to a positive online shopping experience. Basically, if you make customers pay for return shipping, they will shop somewhere that doesn’t instead.

Easy Returns Are Costly

You might think that they do, but that’s just because you are not seeing the bigger picture. The reality is that numerous studies have been conducted that entirely disproved this notion. A recent white paper we authored is telling. It entails a number of varying studies that have dispelled this misinformation once and for all.

In fact, offering no-questions-asked, hassle-free returns with no restocking or return shipping fees makes you more money in the long run than the latter. One study found that online businesses were able to improve profits by 25% in just six months by offering hassle-free returns. Another found that profits soared even greater just by making this simple change.

Returns Cost Too Much Time

The reason processing returns is so time consuming for your online store is because you are not harnessing the power of the available software solutions. Instead, you should be looking to automate online product returns. With the right system in place, you can allow customers to process a return online or over the phone in minutes, while generating a prepaid shipping label.

Want to know how lenient product returns improve profits? Check out this infographic, and take a look at ReadyReturns, which fully automates the return process with rules you set.


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