Help Me Help You: An Easy Return Policy Can Make Your Store Shine

Posted on November 26, 2018

Sometimes, it’s just not meant to be. You coax a customer into your store, you show them what you’ve got, they’re impressed enough to buy, but then somewhere down the line, they want to return it. This isn’t the time to soul-search, and it’s not the time to pout, and it’s not the time to resent your customers. People have reasons for returning items that you may never know, so it’s time to let that go. It is the time to be proactive and ensure that even if customers are returning items now, they will return to your store again and again.

Stores with great returns policies are likelier to retain customers — even the ones who return items. Think about it from a customer’s point of view: if you try to make a return because a jacket didn’t fit, but the store has a long, arduous return process, you’re not going to go back. A good return policy is part of any good customer service model and can make or break your store in terms of customer retention.

The big name department stores used to be the champions of this. Places like Macy’s, Nordstrom, and L.L. Bean were renowned for their easy return experiences. Many of these stores didn’t even need a receipt to process a return. That has changed with the times, but they still boast excellent return policies. Macy’s offers a window of 180 days to return an item. Nordstrom has no time limit, nor does L.L. Bean. These are important things to note as you’re crafting the perfect return policy for your store.

The beauty of e-commerce is that all receipts are digital by nature. Gone are the days of needing a receipt to confirm that a sale occurred. Macy’s, Nordstrom, and L.L. Bean used to be unique in offering receipt-less returns, but that kind of policy has become outmoded.

You don’t have to worry about receipts anymore, so how can you make your return policy more customer-friendly? Include a return label in the original order, offer to pay for return shipping, allow customers to print their labels off of your site, offer tracking, refund as soon as you get an item — the possibilities are truly endless. By implementing just a few of these, or even all of them into your return policy, you’ll be ahead of 90% of the competition.

You may think these steps are intuitive, but they need stating because it has become evident that good customer service is not a given. Zappos became a sensation overnight because of good customer service. That was their brand — good customer service. Good customer service set them apart. For that to be a distinguishing factor in a brand in 2018 speaks to the embarrassing state of customer service. By making some simple changes, you can rise to the top.

Easy return policies can seem daunting because they make it easy for customers to negate a sale, but their benefit, in the long run, is worth losing a sale or two here and there. If you make it an easy, complaint-free process, customers are more likely to give you a second chance. When you solve their pain points, customers will flock to you, all because you helped them return an item.