In the long run, you'll want to have a viable return policy that can work for your company for years to come. Planning this out ahead of time can prevent it from becoming a hassle or causing your business to lose customers in the future. Part of making sure your clients are happy is not only being there for them when you conduct the sale, but afterward--this means even if they decide to return their purchases.
You have the perfect opportunity to create a return policy for your company when crafting your business plan. Taking the time to do so can make sure you have all of the details hammered out before you launch your company. Even if you need to make changes to your policy in the future, having the structure developed will simplify the process. Planning can also help when it comes to budgeting returns and factoring them into your profit.
There are a few things to keep in mind while you're creating a return policy for your business. First, it's important to keep in mind that customers value honesty and promptness when doing business. Ecommerce-Guide.com reports that it's best to create a return policy that is easy to read and outlined to cater to your clients' needs. It should be boldly stated on everything from your company website to your social networking profiles. If you have a physical store location, the National Federation of Independent Business recommends having a sign in plain view with your policy. Doing so can prevent complications and customer complaints.
When outlining the details of your return policy, make it a point to set a limit on dates. For instance, many retailers only let customers return items within a 30-day time frame. The longer you allow clients to make returns, the more of a risk you have of negatively affecting your business. Items may lose value and go on clearance when they are returned.
When creating your policy, also remind clients that they need a receipt in order to return your jewelry pieces or supplies or you need to specify the consequences if they don't have documentation in hand. Some stores offer gift cards to customers who are over the time frame limit or do not have a receipt. Letting clients know that there are options available to them following a purchase can make sure they leave happy, and don't feel like they will be shut out if they want to bring back an item.
Once you have an idea of what to include in your return policy, you might want to be mindful of some of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when it comes to developing a plan.
Entrepreneur.com reports that one of the biggest slip-ups that small business owners make is failing to define the reshipping costs to consumers. Customers who find your policy to be vague or don't understand how to properly return items are likely going to be dissatisfied with your service. In the end, this could hurt your customer retention rate.
Another thing to be mindful of is that you need to be consistent in order for your policies to work as you originally planned, and this applies to your returns. If you accept one return and not another, customers will begin to notice and question your overall strategy. Experts say that consumers should know what to expect from you at all times, even as your business grows and expands.
Finally, think about rewarding your customers for shopping with you, even after they return an item. For example, you might want to offer free shipping on returns in order to simplify the process and cause less stress for the consumer. Although this might seem like one big loss when considering your overall bottom line, doing so can benefit your customer retention rate.
It can be difficult to handle the burden of returns, but this is something that all retailers have to deal with, regardless of what they're selling. Being prepared can soften the blow and make this part of the industry easier to deal with on a regular basis.
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