Why Having a Good Customer Returns Policy Makes Good Business Sense

By Randall Orser | Small Business

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Having a good or item returned by one of your customers can be disappointing, perhaps leading you to conclude that your products are of poor quality and not worth the money paid for them. But there is another way of looking at this undesirable situation. Providing a good returns service can prove to your customers that you care about their satisfaction, and can result in their repeat business for years. Sears is a great place to buy something as they take it back no matter the reason. Costco is another store that takes it back, sometimes way beyond the normal amount of time.

Why goods are returned

Unlike brick-and-mortar shops where a person can touch, see and feel the product they are considering buying, online shoppers have to rely on photographs, product descriptions and other buyers’ reviews, and as such, an item when received may not meet with expectations. An item may also have become damaged in transit, or a customer may simply have changed their mind. With an online shop, a customer cannot walk back into the store with their receipt and insist on a refund or exchange. They have to rely on the returns policy of the business.

Reassurance for your customers

Customers like to feel they have some form of protection when they shop online. One way of doing this is to promise secure financial transactions, but another is with a returns policy. Such a policy lends credence to your trading reputation, and demonstrates confidence in the products you are selling. A customer will believe in the representation of your products because you offer the option for them to return anything that fails to live up to their expectations. Without this assurance, a customer may become suspicious of the product and your reliability, and choose not make the purchase.

Contents of returns policies

Every business can establish its own returns policy, but there are certain elements that a customer expects. These include the option to return the good for any reason, not just damage. There does have to be a time limit imposed on returns, otherwise goods might be kept for months or even years, depreciating in value and becoming nonviable as re-sale material. Most standard returns policies have 30-day limits, just as most will require the product to be returned in its original packaging. It is up to individual companies to decide whether to offer free returns, but these are undeniably more attractive to customers.

Making returns even easier

If you want to encourage even higher degrees of customer loyalty, you should make it even easier to return goods. This is simpler for big-name companies to achieve, as they have greater resources at their disposal; but you could consider working with a parcel delivery company that has drop-off locations on main streets or at train stations, so that people can drop their returns off on their way to work. You could even arrange collections from home or workplaces so your customer does not have to do anything except submit a return request online.

However you choose to word your returns policy, ensure that your customer can quickly see or find it on your website. A highly visible returns policy will enhance your seller reputation and help to build customer loyalty.

About the Author

Bookkeeper Extraordinaire Number Crunchers® Financial Services Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.