Nowadays many online customers buy with an explicit plan of immediately returning some items.

Returns are the new normal and central to the online customer experience. What is a Return Policy exactly? A Return Policy is the agreement where a company informs customers about its returns and refunds policies. It usually includes:

  • How many days customers have to return a product
  • How they can return a product
  • Conditions of returns and restrictions on specific products
  • Who pays return shipping costs
  • How customers receive the refund (credit or replacement)

In Europe, whatever the reason is (the item arrived damaged, customer ordered the wrong size, or it simply didn’t meet expectations), online consumers have the right to cancel and return their order within 14 days. And no matter how much effort you put into your product and customer experience, chances to encounter a few unsatisfied customers are always along the way.

In 2020 consumers returned products worth $428 billion (just over 10% of total retail sales). The holiday season is the most popular time of the year for online shopping: the most returns happen throughout December, January, and February. During these months, a quarter of online shoppers buy items with the intention of returning them at a later date.

How can SMEs counter e-commerce returns?

A company that provides a smooth shipping strategy to handle return and exchange requests is more likely to retain its customers and have them come back and purchase again. In fact, most consumers prefer to shop at retailers that display a transparent product return policy on their e-commerce stores.

According to statistics, about 60% of online customers review the return policy before making a purchasing decision. The main benefit of providing a return policy on your e-commerce store is that you gain trust from potential customers who might be concerned about not being able to return a product, and, consequently, convert more sales.

Moreover, make sure to include accurate product descriptions by providing as much information as possible in the product description, including high-quality product images and video: the more informed shoppers are on exactly what they’re buying, the less likely they are going to return the item.