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How to Handle Ecommerce Returns

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on January 05, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Hawking your wares on the internet gives you the potential for millions of new customers. Sadly, shipping and inventory mistakes can happen and not all of those customers will be satisfied with their purchase. So how do you do returns when the customer can't walk through your front door with the product and a receipt?

As it turns out, crafting a great (and legal) return policy for ecommerce isn't all that different than putting one together for brick-and-mortar sales. Here are a few things to consider:

Be Clear

The last thing customers want is to be confused about whether and how they can return items purchased through your website. Make sure your return policy, whatever it is, is easy to find and easy to read. Having simple links from your front page, purchase information page, or confirmation email are as essential as using plain English when describing your policy. At a minimum, your return policy should outline:

  • Whether refunds are available.
  • How exchanges and credits are handled.
  • How shipping costs are allocated.

Be Consistent

The easier your ecommerce return policy is for customers to understand, the easier it will be for your employees to implement. Your staff needs to be fluent in returns, so that they are handled as efficiently as possible. And as tempting as it may be to bend over backwards for an unhappy customer, make sure no one is getting special treatment -- all customers must be treated the same to avoid conflicting information and reviews.

Be on Time

Along with your other terms of ecommerce returns, make sure your customers know how long they have to return or exchange items, and, again, stick to your timeline. But also be clear about the time for exchange turnarounds, including shipping and receiving, and be as prompt as possible when refunding credit cards or providing store credit.

Even the most beloved companies aren't perfect when it comes to customer satisfaction, but a well-crafted ecommerce return policy can help your small business avoid the ire of unhappy online shoppers.

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