How to write a return policy that increases your conversion rate (with examples)

How to write a return policy

Return policies are extremely important when selling online. If you’re just starting out then they’ll help you generate trust with shoppers more easily, because they’ll know they can return anything easily if they need to.

In this post we’ll look at a few things which should be included in your return policy. We’ll then see some real examples of return policies designed not just to make return easier for customers, but that also increase conversion rates significantly as well.

There are 6 things you need to think about when writing your return policy:

The longer the return period, the greater your sales

Most online stores have a return policy that expires after 30 or 60 days, but what if your return policy lasted for 90 days, 120 days, 365 days or even for a lifetime? Buying online is all about risk for most people. They’re thinking to themselves “If I buy from this store and things don’t work out, will I lose my money or can I trust them to honor their return policy?”.

Extending your return policy for as long as you can will make more than it will cost you, because the overwhelming majority of your customers will not act on your return policy – they just want to know it’s there for peace of mind before they place their order.

List all conditions and be up front about them

If you’ll only accept return to a certain address or when the box is marked with particular details, then make that clear. Provide examples to help your customers out should they ever need to return something to you. Ideally, however, your return policy will have few (if any) conditions attached to it.

Include testimonials from refunded (happy) customers

If customers do return an item and there’s really no other way around it then be cheerful and friendly about it. Process the return immediately and ask for a testimonial about their experience. Take their testimonial (and name+photo if you can) and add it to your return policy page. When shoppers see the testimonials they’ll be even more likely to whip out their credit cards and buy from you.

Offer store credit instead of a cash refund

Depending on what you sell, a lot of return can be because the customer simply chose the wrong model number or product size. Because of this you should include two options in your return policy: a) a cash refund or b) the issue of store credit. If the customer wants a cash refund then of course you should give it to them, but a surprising number of customers will be just fine with a store credit.

Find any problems and fix them

This might sound obvious, but you should always ask the customer why they’re returning an item they bought from you. Keep a list of reasons and if you spot any trends then try to stop the problem in its tracks.

Promote your return policy like crazy

Most of your competitors won’t even publish a return policy, but if you’ve listened to the tips above and  sell good quality products then you should promote your return policy everywhere you can: on your home page, on your shopping cart and checkout pages and even in your newsletters and promotions. Remember, winning your shopper’s trust can send your conversion rate through the roof.

Now that you understand how to write a great return policy, let’s look at 3 real examples, starting with Zappos.

Zappos’ return policy

Zappos return Policy

The first thing to notice here is the level of detail. Zappos steps you through everything you need to know to return an item and spends a good amount of time reassuring you that they will look after you. The theme here? Trust.

Best Buy’s return policy

Best Buy return Policy

Best Buy does a good job of discussing their return period for various items, includes a list of items that aren’t eligible for return and explains the various ways to return an item or request a refund. They use simple language and lots of bullet points to make reading and skimming fast.

Apple’s return policy

Apple's Return Policy

The final example is Apple. Just like Best Buy and Zappos, they go into detail on exact how to return something, the return period, refunds and gift returns. This policy is written for their retail stores, so they include helpful advice on how to track the status of a return, how to locate your closest Apple store, etc. Everything you’d expect from Apple.

You should now have everything you need to craft a compelling return policy for your online store. Remember to be generous, use clear and simple wording, lots of bullet points and include instructions not just for how to return an item, but for anything else your customers might need before, during and after the return process is complete.

Feature image via Elliott Plack on Flickr

How to Create an Online Store This Weekend

Free guide to launching a wildly successful ecommerce business