Optimizing your return policy: The secret to balancing costs and benefits for convenient customer returns

3 minute read

As a business owner, it’s easy to feel frustrated by the seemingly high cost of customer returns.

Today’s online shoppers think nothing of ordering multiple products and returning what they don’t want. It’s a part of doing business in the digital age.

This makes return policies a balancing act for e-commerce retailers. You want to enjoy the benefits of offering convenient customer returns, but you also need to manage costs. You’re walking a tightrope between cost and benefit, and want to avoid any missteps.

Convenient returns drive conversions, reduce abandoned carts, increase average order values, and build customer loyalty – but they come with potential risks. Make them too convenient, and return costs could grow faster than you’re able to manage. Make them too restrictive, and you could pay the price in missed purchase opportunities.

So how do you strike a balance between the costs and benefits?

If we change the way we think about customer returns, they can help build sales over the long-term. Here are a few of our top tips:

  • Put customers first

    The best customer experiences lead to further interactions and sales. We’ve all heard the statistics that show that unhappy customers share their experiences 10 times more often than happy customers. The easier and more seamless the experience is for your customers, the more they’ll want to do business with you.

    Simplicity and convenience help make customers feel safe, eliminating friction from a purchase decision. They’ll buy more, more often, because they know they can trust you.

  • Leverage the potential of your return policy with effective messaging

    Return policies can be complicated. But the way you communicate them doesn’t have to be.

    If you’re making your return policy even remotely difficult to access, read, or understand, thinking about ways to make it accessible and user-friendly can offer great opportunities to boost sales.

    Jean-Sebastien Beauchamp – Product Manager at Canada Post – says it best: “A clear returns policy helps customers feel more secure.”

    Take a look at Canadian apparel brand Kit & Ace to see an example of how to do this right. The moment you visit their website, you know everything you need to about returns:

    A laptop displays Kit & Ace website, highlighting their returns policy.

    Short, sweet, and sticky – Kit & Ace’s powerful returns messaging is placed front and centre – maximizing the marketing value of their policy by eliminating customer concern about returns.

    Messaging like this doesn’t include the nuts-and-bolts of a return policy – but it doesn’t have to. Customers can always access the fine print if they want to, but they shouldn’t need to in order to develop a good impression of how returns work before they buy!

  • Get the most out of free and paid support resources

    There’s a whole range of options between D.I.Y. and professional help to substantially improve your return processes and policy without paying an arm and a leg.

    Instead of spending on lawyers and consultants, consider spending two hours in a Return Policy Builder like ours.

    You’ll develop a policy tailored to the needs of your business, giving you:

    • All your legal terms and conditions
    • The ability to let customers print return labels from your website, from email, or to find one in their parcel’s packing slip
    • Convenient access to expert help to optimize your return policies and procedures, should you need it

E-commerce returns: closing the gap between merchants and shoppers

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