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How to Create A Return Policy

How to Create A Return Policy

By Liz Coulson, June 17th 2020

In the ecommerce industry, it's impossible to please everybody all of the time. Some people will want to return the products they've purchased, but with a great return policy, you can still provide a 5 star experience. Here are some best practices to bear in mind when creating and editing your ecommerce return policy.

Why a Great Return Policy is a Must-Have 

A return policy is required by law, whether you're selling on your own ecommerce site or marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Etsy – but a great return policy is a must-have.


Some marketplaces have their own return policies that can overrule yours, but there has to be a specific reason like: the item wasn't as described in the listing or the item wasn't delivered. 

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Your return policy won't be the most exciting piece of content your visitors will read, but it will be one of the most read pieces, so use it as a place to impress people! Show them that you're proud of your products and give them a fantastic experience.

"66% of customers check return policies before making a purchase."

You manage expectations and build trust with potential customers through a well-written return policy; vital when building new relationships. 

Hesitant customers will find reassurance from a policy that makes it clear you are confident in your products, often resulting in a sale.

If your product wasn't suitable for your customer and your returns process was fair and simple, they won't be left with a sour taste in their mouth. This will keep them coming back to buy from you again. 

How to Write a Great Returns Policy

As you can see, a returns policy is much more than receiving your items back, it's bringing customers back to your online store. Next up, best practices to bear in mind when writing a returns policy.

Manage Expectations

It's important to tell your customers what's required for them to return their order, and it's also an opportunity for you to manage their expectations. Update your policy as you go along with frequently asked questions so you spend less time answering them. Here are a few things you will need to cover in your policy: 

  • State if you are going to give full refunds, exchange items or give credit. You could give a combination of them all depending on the situation and the product, but this will need clearly stating to avoid confusion.
  • What is the cost of returning items?
  • What items can be returned or exchanged and within what time period? 
  • What is the turnaround time for your customer to receive their refund?
  • Does your customer have to return their items in the original packaging?

Having this information written down for easy access, and setting these expectations early on, will give your customers and employees clear guidelines.

Don't Hide Fees 

You will need to decide if you are going to cover the costs of returns or if your customers are. But whichever option you choose, make sure that it's written clearly and in plain sight – a returns policy is not the place to play hide and seek with information! 

If you blindside your customers with a fee for returning an item, you shouldn't be surprised if a negative review pops up along the way. 

Within the fees section, you can include whether or not you're going to give full refunds, exchanges or credit peoples' accounts.

Set Return Requirements 

You're going to have return requirements so your business doesn't make a loss – in your policy, tell people what they are. If they are understandable, it will create a clear and efficient returns process for both you and your customers.

Specify what time and condition your product has to be in for it to be returned. Write this as clearly as possible for each product, you can never give too much clarity. This might prevent customers from using your products once and returning them. 

Write a Simple and Clear Return Policy 

Your return policy needs to be clear and concise. This will prevent confusion and save you time dealing with the same enquiries from different customers. 

You are still talking to your target audience so you should still use your business's tone of voice, and reiterate that you are great – by providing a brilliant returns policy – building that trust with your customers.

Make Your Policy Easy to Find

You've put a lot of effort into making sure all of the information included in your return policy is clear, so make sure it's easy to find too. This way, your customers can't miss it and you've set expectations, hopefully before they've made their purchase.

If your returns policy has a unique selling point (USP), use it as part of your sales and marketing strategy to stand out from your competitors. There would be nothing stopping you from using the messaging on your homepage, but make sure there is links in other relevant places too: 

  • Your website footer
  • Product pages
  • Checkout page
  • Order confirmation page/email
  • FAQ page

Your return policy is so much more than defining how long your customers get to send back unwanted items; it's a crucial way to build relationships with customers, whilst making the process as easy as possible for you both. We hope this article has pointed you in the right direction so you can start drafting your return policies and making amendments if you already have an existing one.

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