If you're a returning visitor, you might have realized that this website is filled with various guides to increase your online sales. From improving engagement with your online store to boosting sales during the holiday season, ecommerce professionals are constantly on the lookout for the next best way to make a tweak and pad those margins.
But did you ever think about how that return and refund policy could really help out your customers?
Wouldn't it be nice to have a tested return policy template that's known to help out with sales?
It's easy to compare to Amazon, but in this respect, it makes a lot of sense.
Amazon doesn't do anything fancy, but its return policy is hard to beat. In fact, as long as you live a few blocks from a UPS there's almost nothing to it when returning an item. Most items are given a 30-day return policy, and Amazon extends this policy during the holiday season. Oh yeah, and if you pass that threshold Amazon still allows customers to trade-in or sell back their products.
Now, let's take a look at LL Bean. The company is famous for having one of the best return policies in the world, so it makes sense that LL Bean has so many loyal customers. In short, LL Bean does state that it can reject a return or exchange at any time, but most customers report being able to return used items, items without tags, items without receipts, and more. In fact, many times the company is fully willing to let you exchange a product used for years.
So, where does that leave you?
It leaves you with two choices:
Would you like to set up a return policy template that makes it easy for your customers, or are you more interested in wowing customers with how flexible you are?
In order to communicate a decent policy to your users, it's important to display it on your website. That's why we've put together the ideal return policy template for you to start off with.
Elements of a Great Return Policy Template to Build Trust with Customers
Not every return policy is going to look the same. Obviously, you would want to customize the policy with your company name and other specifics, but in general, you should focus on a policy with the following elements:
Keep it Short and Sweet
Take a Look at the LL Bean Return Policy.
It doesn't go much longer than the screen, so technically the customer doesn't have to scroll down if they're only looking for the rules. It outlines the details and special conditions ( which is only a short list of bullet points,) along with what happens if you try to misuse the flexible policy.
In addition, LL Bean has the company philosophy towards the top, pretty much stating that you can return or exchange the majority of products, even after being worn.
And that's how it should be. If you plan on having a return policy that looks like a long privacy or security policy, no one is going to read it.
Have a Quick Link to Print a Return Form and Shipping Label
There's a UPS no more than a block away from my house in Chicago. Therefore, when I want to return an Amazon package all I have to do is print out the shipping label, walk it over to UPS, and hand it to the person at the counter. If I already have it in a box they'll tape it up for me. If not, a box is provided. It's just about the simplest return process I've ever encountered.
Every return policy template requires a quick link to print a return form and shipping label. You should also test out the process with your own items to see how quickly UPS employees take the package and box it up. If they look confused then maybe there's something wrong with your labels.
Consider Unlimited Time for Returns (Or Something Close)
Want to beat out the big dogs like Amazon? Consider giving your customers an unlimited time window to bring in their items. We already talked about how LL Bean does this, but you can also see this in other stores like Costco and REI. Costco doesn't allow this on some items like TVs and other electronics, but most other items are included.
If this seems impossible for your business, take some advice from Kohls and stick to a one-year return policy. At least this is 12-times better than what customers get on Amazon.
Offer In-store Returns
This only applies to online shops with retail stores as well. It's one of the main reasons places like Walmart and Target still have an advantage over Amazon. REI does a wonderful job of this as well. Why? Because it's much easier to hand a return to a person than it is to print out that shipping label and work with UPS or the post office.
Some additional rules when devising a return policy:
- Never copy and paste a return policy template like this. It's only going to cause problems down the road for your SEO, since you'll have duplicate content on your website. Instead, take a template and use it as a guide, then completely rewrite it for your company.
- Avoid intimidating statements like “you must” or “it is required.” These statements don't build trust at all. Instead, they sound like your customers are being forced to do something.
- Make sure your entire staff knows and is educated about the policies. Otherwise, you're going to have some unsettling conversations between staff and customers.
A Return Policy Template That Can Help With Sales
And now for the template you've all been waiting for. In theory, it's not all that difficult to formulate one of these. It's more a matter of whether or not your operations are ready for what you promise on the policy. For instance, you can write about how you're willing to accept returns within a year's time, but can your staff manage that?
Anyway, here's our favorite return policy template for online stores:
Full disclosure, this template is based off the LL Bean policy, since it's such as well-shaped outline:
(Include a paragraph that explains your company philosophy about returns. Is your company all about letting people use the products then return them? Are you trying to create an environment where the return process is fast and easy?)
In order to protect all customers and ensure that all returns and exchanges are handled fairly, (insert company name) may require a receipt or decline your return or exchange in some situations, such as:
- Products that were not bought directly from (insert company name) – like from a thrift store
- Products that have been defaced
- Products with missing labels
- Products without receipts or store IDs
- Products that haven't been cleaned
- Products that have been lost or damaged to the point where they aren't usable
Make a Return or Exchange through the Mail
Do you need to make an exchange immediately?
Order online or call (insert phone number) for the fastest delivery.
The Refund details
It will take up to (how many weeks) to receive a full refund. Gifts receive a merchandise credit, but most of the time we reimburse you with the payment method used.
1. Find the Packing Slip
Find and complete the form printed on the packing slip that came with your order. (You might also have a link for the customer to print out a new one.)
2. Prepare the Package
Include the item, receipt, and packing slip. Use the original packaging or something similar.
3. Attach the Shipping Label
Include a link here for them to print out the shipping label. You might also need to specify how much the return shipping will cost them.
4. Ship Us Your Package
Take the package to a UPS location. (Include a link for them to find locations to UPS, or something like USPS or FedEx).
(If Needed) Include a Section About Returning to a Store
It doesn't matter whether you purchased your item at an (insert company name) retail store or online. You can always bring the item into one of the stores for a full refund.
Places like Shopify have return policy generators, but once again, you should only use this as a starting point. Stray away from copying and pasting, since it's only going to make your policy sound generic, and you're most likely going to hurt yourself in the SEO game.
Do You Have a Refund Policy Template That'll Actually Help Your Business?
This return policy template is sure to get you started, but don't forget about making it your own.
And when I say that, I'm talking about more than just changing the fields (company name and contact information). Think about what makes your store unique and how you can get customers talking about your return policy over others.
We encourage you to take this template as a building block, then utilize some of the tips we've talked about in this article.
There are also plenty of other real-world return policy examples you can search for on Google and check out when you're shopping.
Have you come across any good return policy examples? Please do share the templates!
If you have any questions about our return policy template, or how to formulate a quality policy, let us know in the comments section below.
Feature Image by Marcus