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No matter what kind of business you operate, having a rock-solid return policy is of utmost importance. Whether you operate an online business or a brick-and-mortar – or both – having a strong return policy can save you a lot of headache (and money). Did you know that:
- At least 30% of products ordered online are returned,
- Nearly 9% of products purchased in a brick-and-mortar are returned,
- And in one year alone, Americans returned $260 billion worth of merchandise to retailers!
The product is damaged. The wrong item was purchased. The merchandise is no longer wanted. The reasons customers request a return can be endless – but you can develop a return policy to handle it all. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you create an amazing return policy for your business:
What to Define in Your Policy
- Receipt: You must define whether or not customers need a receipt in order to make a return. While this is optional, it is beneficial to require a receipt for myriad reasons: they enable you to verify the purchase came from your business, they help you accurately record the return in your books, and much more. Some different variations to include receipts in your policy include no returns without receipts, no exchanges without receipts, no-receipt returns will result in store credit, and more.
- Identification: Next, decide whether you want to require customers to present ID upon returning products. Variations of identification policy could include ID is required with receipts, ID is required without a receipt, or ID is not required.
- Payment type: When customers return an item, how will you refund them? Some choices include an exchange (return an item for a new item), cash refund, credit/debit card refund, or store credit.
- Timing: Next up, it’s time to decide the required timing of the return. Can customers return items 14, 30, 60, or 90 days out? The choice is yours. Some businesses choose to vary the time range depending on product type (for example, clothing may be returned within 90 days, but makeup must be returned within 30 days).
- Restrictions: Last but not least, what is the fine print of your policy? What items are not allowed to be returned, or “all sales final”? For example, sometimes businesses restrict returns on heavily discounted items and customized products.
Why Paper Receipts are Key
- Easy for customers to retain: A digital receipt has its advantages, but when it comes to returns, nothing beats a good, old-fashioned paper receipt. Paper receipts can easily be kept in customers’ wallets, and avoids the frustrating, time-consuming process of sifting through emails looking for a receipt.
- Can include more than just return information: Did you know you can include more on your receipt than just transaction and return information? With Star’s value-add PromoPRNT tool, you can easily include custom promotions directly on the bottom of receipts – and all from one central location!
- Cut down on fraud: Here’s a shocking statistic for you: according to the National Retail Federation, a whopping 5% of returns are cases of return fraud (which costs U.S. retailers $9-17 billion per year)! Printing paper receipts – and requiring them for a return – is a sure-fire way to cut down on instances of return fraud in your store.
How to Manage Your Return Policy
- Be consistent: To establish your policy, be sure to apply it to each and every customer. Also, to avoid surprises, it can be helpful to inform customers about your policy at the time of purchase.
- Train your staff: Properly training your staff to handle different return scenarios can make the entire process smoother for both your business and your customers.
- Display the policy: Be sure to prominently display your return policy near your register and on your receipts so that it’s constantly visible to both customers and employees.
- E-commerce tips: If you operate an e-commerce store, check out these tips for an online return policy.
Heidi Orpilla is the Digital Content Specialist at Star Micronics where she creates and manages content for Star’s blog, social media, website, products, and more. Heidi has a passion for writing and has worked in the B2B marketing space for over five years. Prior to working at Star, Heidi worked at a large reseller for six years.