It’s no exaggeration to say everyone shops online. Big Commerce puts the number of American e-commerce shoppers at 96%; that’s more than 310 million people. The National Retail Federation has found that 15 to 30 percent of those purchases are going to be returned. That means your online store’s return policies are very important.
Retailers are often very concerned that customers will take advantage of generous return policies. However, eMarketer reports that more than half of all shoppers won’t do business when they feel the return policies are too strict. The majority of shoppers prefer receiving a full refund, rather than exchanging an item or receiving store credit. Additionally, online shoppers don’t want to pay the shipping costs to return an item they don’t want or aren’t pleased with. Customers want to be able to return items without receipts, tags, or original packing materials, and more than one in ten shoppers would prefer to buy items online and return them to a nearby brick and mortar location.
As a business owner, determining what your return policies are going to require balancing the need to protect your business with customer preferences. It’s a good best practice to review your returns policy on an annual basis, to make sure its provisions are still appropriate for your business. Once you’re clear about what your policies are, you want to make sure they’re easy to find on your website and on any other sales channels, including social media. Analytics show us that this information is among the most-accessed content on any e-commerce site. If there are aspects of your return policy that are a competitive advantage, such as buy online return in store, make sure you promote this fact throughout your messaging: it can provide the final nudge that moves your customer from interest to action.