BigCommerce helps growing businesses, enterprise brands, and everything in-between sell more online.

How to create a return policy

There will times when customers want to send a product back to your online store. They have ordered something by mistake or the color turned out to be different from what they expected. Whatever the reason, retailers need to have a process in place to handle returns smoothly and efficiently to avoid a negative customer experience. Users don't get a sense of the look and feel of an item before purchasing If it's difficult for a shopper to return merchandise, he or she most likely will not buy from your website again. Return policies are often overlooked when setting up an online store, but they build confidence in a business. Some customers will even buy from an online store again if they have a seamless return experience.

Have a clear return policy

A lack of a straightforward returns policy complicates the process. In brick-and-mortar retailers, it's easy to return or exchange a product. Because returning an online purchase means arranging for shipping, ecommerce returns and exchanges are complicated. In addition, refunds sometimes take several days to reach customers. Having a clear policy in an easy-to-find spot on your website creates a stronger chance that customers will understand the rules before making a purchase, which reduces returns. Shoppers are sometimes reluctant to buy something in the first place if they are unsure of how the returns process works in case the product isn't right. A easy-to-find return policy instills confidence.

Here are some elements to include in your policy and where to put it on your website:

Use straightforward, concise language

Breaking each point into bullets makes it easier for customers to find what they need. Express any conditions of the return, such as the product must be unused. Include any deadlines and directions for where returned merchandise should be sent. Avoid legal jargon whenever possible because this is hard to read at a glance and often deters shoppers from purchasing. Explain how refunds are handled and when they can be expected.

Set your deadline

Most return policies have a specific time window after the purchase. While traditional retailers often have a 30-day time frame, the deadline needs to be realistic for ecommerce. Especially during times of peak business activity like the holiday season, one month is not enough time. Depending on your store's sales volume, extending the return deadline during the holiday season is another option. Some ecommerce stores offer their customers a full year to send merchandise back for a full refund.

Too-short of time frames create a sense of urgency, which encourages customers to send items back. More flexible policies reduce returns because shoppers don't feel pressured to commit to the item.

Make the policy easy to find

Putting your return policy in a visible location won't contribute to a higher number of returns. The return policy can influence shoppers who are on the fence about a purchase. Burying the policy on a hard-to-find page on the website frustrates clients and impacts user experience. Placing the return policy on a dedicated page makes it easier to find. Including information about returns on the checkout page enables a simplified user experience.

Determine who pays for shipping

Offering free returns improves customer satisfaction, but this is not possible for all retailers. The costs need to be weighed to determine if free returns are feasible. Whichever shipping option a retailer chooses, this needs to be expressed in the return policy. Inform customers of the packaging requirements for returns.

BigCommerce helps growing businesses, enterprise brands, and everything in-between sell more online.

Start growing your ecommerce business even faster.

High-volume or established business? Request a demo