Does your company have a return policy? This is one of the most commonly asked questions in the business world. As a consumer, we all want to know if there’s an easy way to get our money back if we are not satisfied with the product or service.
Obviously, you don’t want to get frequent returns, but not every consumer is out looking for ways to return your item. In fact, most customers simply want to know about the return policy before they buy.
According to Marketing Land, 95% of online shoppers say a positive return experience drives loyalty. So even though some of your consumers may be returning your items, but if you make it easy.
They are more likely to come back and purchase from you again.
Not only is your return policy going to make it easy for your customers to make returns, but it will also show that you stand behind your products.
At least enough to show that you are willing to offer a way to return the product if the customer is not satisfied.
By not offering a return policy, your customers will think twice before making a purchase.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to increase sales with a return policy. You can either start a brand new one or use this article as a reference on how to tweak your existing return policy.
#1. Offer A Free Trial
When it comes to online services, many companies offer free trials. For example, AWeber, my email marketing service provider offers a free trial for 30 days. But what about a business that sells physical products?
Well, some companies have already implemented this process. Just recently, I was looking for eyeglasses, but there are so many frames to choose from. I didn’t know which one I really wanted.
And that’s when I stumbled upon Fetch Eyewear. There you can request for up to 5 different frames to be sent to your home for free. All frames are sent with demo lenses, but you’ll receive the real ones if you decide to buy.
What’s awesome is that their customers can experience the product first hand before making a commitment to buy.
I really liked this idea because I don’t want to buy something like eyeglasses before actually trying them on.
I’ve made this mistake many times in the past. I’ve purchased eyeglasses on the internet before trying them on and they just didn’t fit right. The same can be said for other products such as clothing.
That’s why I still make the trip to the shopping mall to try on clothing before buying them online.
Some companies will send you the actual product to try and charge you for the ones you keep. But due to the number of frauds, Fetch Eyewear will only send you a demo product.
After you send back the demo eyeglasses, you can order the real ones.
This is a brilliant strategy to implement to your business because it will drive far more sales.
As a consumer myself, I am far more likely to buy something that I can actually feel and try. That’s why a car salesman will always ask you to test drive the car that you are interested in.
Not only will that help them generate a sale, but it will also help you decide if the car is the right one for you.
If you are running an online business that sells physical products, I highly recommend that you try this out.
#2. Make It Obvious That You Have A Return Policy
There’s no reason to hide your return policy. As I mentioned earlier, a return policy entices someone to buy because there’s less risk involved.
The above image is a great example done by The North Face, an awesome company for jackets, bags, etc. Now I shop there all the time, so I trust their products.
But what about someone who has never purchased from The North Face before? By adding a free shipping & free returns on their website, they are telling their customers that they stand by their product and if you don’t like it, return it.
They’ve also included the return policy on their footer and they clearly explained how to return their products whether you bought it online or in-store.
#3. Make It Easy To Return Items
It should be as easy to return as it is to buy. And that’s where Amazon shines! The easier it is to return the items, the more sales you’ll make!
Let’s face it, returns are inevitable (Amazon gets them all the time), but if you provide a good enough experience whether it is through checkout or return. People will come back for future purchases.
Here’s an image from Amazon showcasing their return procedure:
As you can see, they simplified their return process. Each step is illustrated in the form of an image. Once you’ve printed the label, prepared the package, and attached the return label. Simply head over to your nearest UPS shipping center to drop off the package.
Even though the customer still has to physically go to a UPS shipping center, but at least they don’t have to fill out where they are shipping to once they get to UPS or worry about shipping to the wrong location.
#4. Provide Free Returns To Your Customers
Shipping costs money, but it far outweighs losing a customer. Remember, you have to think about the lifetime value of a customer, not just a single sale.
Yes, you have to pay for returns, but having your customers pay for their returns is not very flattering. In fact, they’ll probably never come back because they will fear that the next time they buy from you. They’ll want to return it and spend even more money.
A few dollars on paying for returns is not worth losing the lifetime value of a customer.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Why are they returning your product? There’s got to be a problem right? Maybe it’s not the right size, the product was defective, etc.
It’s already an inconvenience to return the item. By having your customers pay for the return, it’s like pouring salt on an open wound.
#5. Have An Extended Return Deadline
Last Christmas, I was shopping online for gifts and I realized that Target has an extended deadline for their customers. I thought it was an amazing idea.
Target extends its return deadline (Between November 1 and December 25):
- All electronics have 30 days for a return or exchange, but during the holidays, the 30 days will begin on December 26.
- All Apple products excluding phones must be returned within 15 days, but during the holidays, the 15 days will begin on December 26 as well.
This makes sense because Target recognizes that its customers are buying for other people to celebrate the holidays. So these items won’t get opened by the person receiving the items right away. This really helps drive sales during the holiday season.
Target also has return exceptions to further entice their customers to buy from them. One of which is if you are not satisfied with any Target Owned Brand item, you can return it within one year with a receipt for an exchange or refund.
#6. Give Your Customers Return Options
If you have multiple store locations, you should allow your customers to return items to any locations. By limiting someone to return an item to one location will reduce customer satisfaction.
Last year during my vacation, I purchased a few items from Best Buy and realized that it didn’t work for me. Instead of traveling back to where I purchased the item. Best Buy allows you to return to any other Best Buy stores to return your items.
So I live in California and there’s no way I’ll fly back to New York City to return a few things.
If they didn’t have the option to return their merchandise to any other store locations, I probably wouldn’t buy from them.
As you can see from the image above, you can return items made on BestBuy.com as well. Which means, you should also consider allowing your customers to return their online purchases to your physical store locations.
#7. Returns With No Questions Asked
If you truly stand behind your products, you should allow returns with no questions asked. Often times, a customer might not realize that they are not happy with an item until they’ve actually used it.
By allowing someone to return an item even after it’s been used, your customers will be more likely to buy from you. This is an idea that I thought about when shopping at Costco.
Now I’m not saying you should allow people to return items after they’ve used it for a year, but you should allow it for a certain period of time.
In the case of Costco, they will accept returns within 90 days. I’ve seen people try out refrigerators only to return it within the allowed period.
Note: I am not encouraging you to abuse this because I’d assume that they do track this via membership. If they find out that you’re constantly buying and returning items. They’ll probably take action by removing your membership.
By implementing returns with no questions asked, you’ll give your customers a chance to try something out without worrying about being stuck with the item if they don’t like it.
#8. Have Awesome Customer Support
Well, regardless, you should have awesome customer support if you want to operate a sustainable business. You see, not every customer wants to resort to returning an item. It’s super inconvenient and frustrating.
Maybe they just have a question about the product that they purchased. Some times it’s something as simple as not knowing how to use it. So by offering awesome customer support, you can have your team resolve as many issues as possible to reduce the number of returns.
There are many ways to offer awesome customer service. Personally, I prefer to use live chat because I don’t like being put on hold when making phone calls.
But that’s just me…
Everyone has their own preference, so you should give them options when it comes to customer service. Here are some examples of methods of contact:
- Live chat, of course
- In person
Obviously, your customer service team should never force a customer to keep an item. Their job is to resolve any issues and if a return is necessary, then so be it.
It’s not worth losing a customer over a small dispute. Again, you have to think about the lifetime value of a customer.
You might think to have a return policy opens the door to losing money, but it’s actually not.
Before someone buys from you, they do consider if it’s going to be easy to return your items if they are dissatisfied.
- Offer free trials to your customers to increase sales and reduce the number of returns.
- Make it obvious that you have a return policy, so your customers know that they can return if they don’t like what they get.
- Returns should be made easy! Having a return policy means nothing if it’s hard to make the return.
- Don’t make your customers pay for returns, it’s not worth saving a few bucks and lose the lifetime value of a customer.
- You should offer an extended deadline for certain occasions such as holidays.
- Offer multiple return options to make it convenient for your customers.
- Don’t question your customers when they want to make a return. If they are firm with the return, just do it.
- Have awesome customer service to resolve any issues to reduce the number of returns.
Obviously, you don’t want a lot of returns, but it’s inevitable. Use this article as a guide on creating or updating your return policy. If done correctly, you will make more sales.
Does your business have a return policy? Are you using some of the methods from this article?
Hopefully, this was helpful! If you have any questions, please leave a comment down below and I will try my best to help you out.