Return Policy - How To Come Up With An Effective One For Your Business

Return Policy – How To Come Up With An Effective One For Your Business

Selling online has certain limitations; the biggest being that the customer can’t physically hold, touch, see or feel the product before buying. 


This is why it’s necessary for you to have an effective return policy.

Without a return policy, customers would be skeptical about buying things online.

A return policy gives them a sense of security, and some relief that in the event of them not liking the product, they would have the option of returning it.

An eCommerce return policy is crucial for making the process of returns and exchanges easy for you and your customer both. The clearer your return policy, the better. 

What Is A Return Policy?

A return policy is a document that describes your business’s requirements and process for accepting returns in detail. It even covers what the customers should expect, and how they can go about initiating a return.

Your return policy helps you in protecting your business from inappropriate returns and also credit card chargebacks that could lead to financial loss. It provides a guideline that allows you to follow a set process.

An effective return policy strikes the right balance between your business not being disadvantaged due to faulty returns and keeping your genuine customers satisfied.

Requirements Of An Effective Return Policy

There are a few basic prerequisites that every return policy should have. These will help you formulate a return policy that suits your business perfectly.

Stipulate a time frame for returns

It’s important to tell your customers how long they have in order to return a product. Usually, 10-15 days is standard, but some businesses opt for as long as up to 90 days.

If you don’t disclose a time frame for returns, you’ll find customers trying to ship back their purchased products months later.

A return policy without a timeframe could harm any business.

Define the expected condition of returns

It’s understandable to accept a return if your customer is immediately unhappy with your product or the product is damaged or defective.

However, if the customer is returning a product after using it for a while, you need to make sure it’s in an acceptable condition.

Customers sometimes break, damage, or devalue the product and then try to return it. Define the acceptable condition that the product must be in for the return to be processed when structuring your company’s return policy.

That way you won’t have to accept returned products that can’t be resold and add to your loss.

List your return requirements

If you have any specific requirements that you want to be met before a return can be processed, let your customers know ahead of time.

For instance, you might want to stipulate that all returns must be sent unopened or in their original packaging.

You should also let your customers know if they need a shipping address, authorization number, purchase receipt, etc.

Whatever be your conditions, just make sure you state them clearly for everyone to see.

A great way to handle this part is to use a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) system. The RMA system lets you request images and information from your customer.

Post that, if you decide to accept the return, you can issue an authorization. You can also send the customer a shipping label along with the authorization document if your business covers return shipping.


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Choose refund or in-store credit

Customers would like to know how you plan to compensate them when they return a product.

Many might settle for in-store credit, while a few might demand a full refund. As an online entrepreneur, you need to make that choice beforehand to avoid confusion later.

We suggest offering customers the option of a full refund or replacement when they return the product immediately as a result of damage or defect from your end.

At your discretion, you can decide to offer store credit when customers have used the product a little and then change their minds.

However, what you want to offer is completely up to you. Plan it keeping in mind what is best for your business.

Return Policy Template

Here’s a basic return policy template below that you can use to make one for your business.

You can use this for inspiration, make necessary changes, and create one that fits your business perfectly.


If you’re looking to exchange or return your order for any reason whatsoever, we’re here to help! We offer free exchanges or returns within the first 30 days of the purchase.

You can exchange your product with another product or the same one for a different size, design, etc., return your product for store credit, or a refund to the original payment method.

Following are the exceptions to our exchange and return policy:

  • Discounted products cannot be exchanged or returned
  • Please return the products in their original packaging with tags still on
  • We will not be able to accept the returned products if they have visible signs of wear and use

You can initiate the exchange or return by completing the following steps:

  • Login to our online return portal using your order ID and email address
  • Choose the products you wish to exchange or return from your order
  • Print your prepaid shipping label that you receive via email
  • Send the items back to us using the label provided

Additional Information:

  • How long does it usually take to receive your replacement product, store credit, or refund
  • Any shipping fees that the customer needs to pay
  • Any return restocking fees that the customer needs to pay
  • How you handle damaged returns
  • Your contact information if the customer has more queries

Return Policy Best Practices

A return policy is not just about the details, but also about presenting them in a clear and concise manner to avoid misunderstandings.

Here are a few best practices that you can follow to create the perfect return policy for your business.

1. Don’t hide your policy

There should not be a need for your customers to go on a scavenger hunt to find information about your return policy on your store. Keep it as visible as you can on your main menu.

The best place to put the return policy is in the confirmation emails you send your customers on their purchases.

Let your customers know that you would love for them to like your product, and if they don’t, you are dedicated to satisfying them with an exchange or return option.

2. Don’t copy and paste from another business’ return policy

Every business should have a customized return policy that fits it perfectly. If you copy and paste the return policy from another business, you might not be doing justice to your customers.

You need to personalize it to your specific business and according to your target audience.

Make it a fun page to read and reiterate your commitment to your customers.

You can also include customer reviews of their experiences here. This page could be like a testimonial spot on your site.

You prove that customers not only love your products, but even when they don’t, you treat them with dignity, respect, and fairness to keep them satisfied.


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3. Use simple language

The best way to crack this is to write as you speak. You don’t need to write like a lawyer and use complicated jargons that make it difficult for your customers to understand.

Use simple words and phrases that your customers can understand and relate to giving your return policy some personality.

Just make sure it is clear, concise, and not open for any interpretation, and you are good to go.

Complicated language and legal jargon will only confuse your customers, and add to your service requests.

The additional time and money this confusion could cost can be easily avoided by having a self-explanatory return policy.

4. Disclose the fees (if any) associated with returns

Customers like to know if they will have to bear the cost of restocking, return shipping, etc. if they return the product. Define such details clearly in your return policy.

From the customer’s perspective, it could be quite disappointing if you don’t like a product, and only find out later that you will have to pay out of your own pocket, to send it back.

If you plan to make the customers take financial responsibility for the products they return, make sure that it is clearly mentioned in your policy.

If you don’t do so, don’t be surprised when you receive upset and angry tweets on your company handle from unhappy customers.

5. Don’t make demands

If someone is reading your policy, most likely it’s because they have almost made up their mind to buy your product. But for them to make that purchase, they would need to see a bit of trust from your side as well.

If you use strong words or phrases like ‘you are required’, ‘you must’, ‘not responsible for’, you just might scare them away.

These words might make it look like that you’re trying to wipe your hands clean of problems that could arise.

If you want to build trust and encourage repeat business for life, don’t make them feel that you are not welcoming to their returns. Think of yourself as a customer trying to return a product, and go through the below two examples:

Example 1 – It would break our heart if you’re not happy with your purchase. However unfortunately if you are unhappy, please send an email to [email protected] with your Order ID within 30 days of receiving your product, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Example 2 – Returns will be accepted within 30 days of receiving the order only. You are required to email the Order ID and reason for return to [email protected]

Now you decide, which one would you buy the product from!

6. Outline what they should expect from you

Do you exchange, refund the customer’s money, or offer store credit?

Every business has its own preference, and you should not feel pressured to offer a full refund only.

Figure out what works best for your unique business. You can even try A/B testing to see which offerings do your customers prefer.


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7. Ensure that you and your staff are well aware of the return policy 

You need to know your return policy by heart. And if you have staff dealing with customers and fulfilling orders, make sure that they know the business’ returns policy inside out too.

A great way is to assign one person to handle the return from the beginning till the end. It would reduce the chances of crossed wires and other kinds of communication problems.

If you or your staff are not completely aware of the return policy, you would not only spend more and more time handling the returns but also complicate the whole process for all parties involved.

8. Absorb the mistakes you make

It’s natural to make mistakes, and it’s quite possible that at some point you would make a mistake that would upset your customer or even make them angry.

The only way to turn the situation around is to go out of your way to solve the problem and keep the customer happy.

If dealt well, sometimes a solved mistake builds more loyalty than a smooth transaction. Doesn’t mean you go on making mistakes deliberately and bring a bad name to your business.

Let’s say, for instance, the customer ordered a dress but you sent them the wrong size by mistake.

Usually, you would allow them to exchange the dress for the correct size after they ship the product, had they ordered the wrong size.

But in this case, since the mistake has been made from your end, the customer might already be disappointed.

To turn it around, you could send them the correct size before they even ship the wrong size, and provide them with a paid pickup so that they don’t have to go through the hassle of shipping it or even pay for it.

Sometimes, you can even send in a note of apology or a little accessory along, to compensate for the mistake you made.

Not only will you be solving the customer’s problem, but make them feel valued and earn their loyalty for life.

9. Don’t leave your customers confused

Usually, when it comes to returns, customers have tons of questions in mind and they stay confused. It’s your responsibility to clear their confusion and provide them with as much clarity as you can.

Answer the following kind of questions in your return policy:

  • What’s the procedure for an exchange or return?
  • Can the customer use their own packaging or do they need to use your packaging?
  • Do they need to include the order slip?
  • Is there a limited time frame in which the exchange or return can be completed?
  • Who pays for the shipping, you or your customer? Will you be providing a shipping label?

Make your eCommerce return policy straightforward and understandable. If the customer is able to understand the policy well, they would be really less hesitant in completing their purchase as well.

Final Thoughts

Your return policy is like an extension of your company and should represent your business’ attitude, core philosophies, and tone.

It’s possible that of all the document sections on your site, the visitors spend most of the time on the return policy.

Most businesses make the mistake of treating the return policy as just a way to express the process and requirements of exchange or refund. But it’s more than that; it’s a means of making a lasting impression.

When creating a return policy for your business, take your time to come up with a solid game plan. In simple words, map out what you exactly want to do before doing it.

Do your research, brainstorm ideas, write a few drafts and ask for advice. Read a few return policies of successful businesses and try to understand what they are doing right.

Lastly, this article covers everything that you need to know about return policies. Give it a second read if you want, and use it to come up with an effective return policy for your eCommerce business.

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