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What is Your eCommerce Returns Policy?

10 October 2013 by Andrew Cargill


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When you’re behind the wheel of an eCommerce website, returns are an inevitable, if exasperating, fact of life. You can process and post a product to an expectant customer but sometimes it won’t fit their expectations and they’ll want to return it.

And in the UK, online buyers are well-protected. The Government’s rules state that:

Online, mail and telephone order customers have the right to cancel for a limited time even if the goods are not faulty. You must offer a refund to customers who buy through distance selling if they cancel goods within 7 calendar days of receiving them.

You must then refund the customer within 30 days. They don’t have to provide a reason for cancelling.

Create your own returns policy

Nevertheless, it’s very important to tailor a returns policy that reflects your brand. After all, if potential customers see your brand as one that’s only willing to do the bare minimum for its customers then you won’t look good.

Here are some really effective ways to create a returns policy that suits your customers and helps your brand to maintain a great reputation:

  •     Use plain English – no one likes jargon at the best of times. Legal returns jargon is even worse. So when your customer wants a simple answer to their question, give it to them.
  •     No hidden costs – likewise, don’t confuse or bemuse the customer with nasty extra charges if they want to return goods. Keep everything out in the open.
  •     Make it easy to find – if you’ve ever spent hours searching for returns policies on websites before, you’ll know it can be a thankless task. So make your returns page easy to find on the footer of the page.
  •     Longer time frames – distance selling regulations protect the customer for up to 7 days before they can return a product they don’t want. But why not, as a testament to your confidence in your products, offer a longer time frame? Maybe give them 30, 60 or 90 days to fully make up their mind.
  •     Offer them options – customers like it when the ball is in their court. Talk to them and offer them a choice between an exchange, cash or in-store credit.
  •     Employ experts – having a customer service team that really know their stuff can make all the difference. Make sure that your team know what they’re talking about and are fully up-to-date with your company’s procedures and products.
  •     Guide customers through the product – there are often times when a customer will mistakenly believe a product to be faulty. Stand by what you’re selling and try to help them to get a product working without having to go through the hassle of handling returns.
  •     Get your descriptions right – a sizeable chunk of returns occur because the product isn’t what the customer thought it would be. By writing individual, accurate product descriptions and uploading detailed photography you’ll be able to greatly reduce the amount of returns coming into your warehouse.
How do you deal with returns on your eCommerce website? Have you introduced measures to prevent them happening? Join in the conversation on our Twitter page or by leaving a reply below.

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