One of the biggest hurdles ecommerce brands have to face involves customers being unable to walk into a physical store in order to speak with a salesperson or to look at the products themselves before deciding whether or not to buy. This can cause difficulties in many areas, and one of those is creating an effective exchange policy for dealing with returns or exchanges.
Even if a customer can look at a product ahead of time, there is still the chance they will change their mind after purchasing. This is only exemplified when dealing with an ecommerce store, meaning that you will need to have a policy in place for dealing with customers that want to return your products. In fact, close to 65% of consumers check to see what a store’s return policy is before making a purchase. What this means for you is that the policy you have in place for your store can heavily influence if a customer will decide to make a purchase or not. You not only need to have a policy in place, it needs to be worded in a way that will make your customers feel more confident when going to buy.
One of the worst things you could decide to do is find a ‘standard’ exchange policy and use it for your website. Not only can that hurt your SEO, customers will likely pick up on it and may not trust that what the policy is saying is true. This is also true for other aspects of your website, such as your product descriptions. Using what the manufacturer provides as a description of your product is never what you should use on your website. Customize your descriptions, and also customize your policies.
Having a solid return and exchange policy also helps to increase your brand’s trustworthiness. Something that may seem to you like a small detail, such as your willingness to return products, can make a huge difference to a person considering making a purchase. Because there are so many ecommerce sites out there, it is likely that if your company doesn’t have a good policy, people will look elsewhere to find a brand that does. However, by having a policy in place that allows customers to change their minds if they decide they are not totally satisfied, people will have much more trust in your brand as a whole. By taking the time to develop a policy unique to your brand, your customers will better believe that you don’t only care about your products, but about your customer’s experience with your products.
To start off, you need to make sure that your policy is very clear so that everyone can understand it. This goes for your shipping, returns, and exchange policies that you have in place. While people love buying from companies like Nordstrom that always offer free shipping (and in fact customers tend to spend on average 30% more on orders where shipping is included), if you are unable to offer that to your customers, be clear about it. There should be no confusion when someone is trying to determine if they want to buy something from your site.
In addition to Nordstrom having a great policy, they also highlight it on the front page of their website so that everyone is aware. Free shipping and free returns are offered all of the time. Their policy is clear and easy to understand. Be sure to keep that in mind when determining what your store policy will be. Don’t forget to include your policy in other areas such as confirmation emails to customers who have made a purchase, as they especially should be aware of your policies.
Be sure to lay out clearly what a customer’s options are if they are unsatisfied with their purchase. Do you offer refunds or only store credits? Does a customer have only a certain number of days to make that decision, and if so how many? Will the customer be responsible for paying for the return shipping or do you offer free returns? What is the exchange process like? These are all questions that should be clearly stated on your website so that someone has a complete idea of their options before making a purchase.
Regardless of what your exchange policy ends up being, you should try your very best to make it easy for the customer to make a return or exchange. If someone reads that there is a long, confusing process to be able to make a return, they are much more likely to not make the purchase in the first place.
For example, Zappos has a very simple return service in place. Customers are able to use the box they received their order in to ship their item back. Instead of having to pay for shipping, they simply go to the website and print a prepaid label that is then attached to the box. The entire process involves minimal effort on the part of the customer.
If possible, try to incorporate customer feedback in some way. As trustworthy as your brand may appear, customers will always appreciate and highly value feedback from other customers. Consider reaching out to customers that make a return or exchange after the process asking them how their experience was. Not only will your customers appreciate you taking the effort to contact them, you can also (hopefully) use their testimony on your site.
Constructing an effective return and exchange policy is one of the most important but underrated aspects of your ecommerce brand. You have to do everything in your power to combat people’s apprehension of buying products online. Make sure to assure them that they will be able to either get a refund or exchange if they are not satisfied with their purchase, and additionally make sure the process is as simple as possible. If done properly you will boost sales, gain loyal customers, and increase brand trustworthiness.