Return Policies Influence 96% of Shoppers’ Decisions

Have you reviewed your return policy recently? If not, it’s time to do so. A new report, titled “Consumer Pulse: Returns”, states that 96% of U.S. consumers said return policies influence their shopping decisions.

Product return has become an essential factor in shopper's decision-making. The InComm report states that 83% of customers who had a negative return experience went on to share their experience:

  • 46% shared their negative experience with friends and family
  • 7% expressed their frustration on social media and consumer websites
  • 30% shared their negative experience with the merchant

According to consumers, the best way to enhance their return experience is through ease and speed. Brick and mortar is the choice when it comes to returns, with about 63% preferring to return items to the store, although 23% do not mind shipping back the item if they purchase it online.

The report also states that 77% of consumers prefer to receive a monetary refund:

  • 42% of consumers prefer cash back
  • 35% will accept a refund back to their credit or debit card
  • 13% don’t mind receiving their refund through store credit and gift cards
  • 10% would exchange if the item is broken or defective.

Why It Matters To Merchants

Creating a quick and reliable return experience without exposing your operations to a greater risk of return fraud can be daunting.

But developing a customer-centric return process is a task that can’t be ignored, as the ripple effect that happens from one poor return experience can be detrimental to your small business. A well prepared, enjoyable and easy to understand return policy, on the other hand, can improve your customer service experience and be a word-of-mouth goldmine.

What You Should Do About It Right Now

The holiday season is prime time to make a good impression on new and returning customers. Before opening your doors to the shopping frenzy, we advise you to look over your return policy and ask yourself if it’s clear and fair.

If you’re not confident about the answer, here are some important return policy components Shopify suggests you include:

  • Which items can be returned
  • Which items can be exchanged (e.g., broken or defective)
  • Which product(s) are non-returnable or non-exchangeable (e.g. “final sale” items or gift cards)
  • When things can be returned or exchanged (e.g., 30, 60, 90 days after purchase)
  • In what condition items can be returned (e.g., lightly worn, with tags still on, etc.)
  • How products can be returned for (e.g., store credit, refund, a product of equal value, etc.)
  • How to initiate a return or exchange if it’s an online store (e.g., contact via email)

Once your return policy has been updated, we recommend notifying your customers of the updated return policy before they make their purchase. If you have an online business, add a link to the return policy page in the footer of your website, the FAQ page, product page, cart, and checkout page. If you have a brick and mortar store, print it out and place it somewhere visible to the customers (e.g., changing rooms, cash register, receipt).

Your return policy will be a deciding factor for many consumers this holiday season, so take the time to create a clear and fair policy that will make holiday shoppers feel comfortable and confident when buying from you.