How to Write a Return Policy (+Free Template)

How to Write a Return Policy
(+Free Template)

Returns, refunds, and exchanges are all part of doing enterprise online. Simply in the US, Statista estimates return deliveries will price companies $550 billion by 2020—a 75.2% enhance from 4 years earlier. Plus, practically 41% of consumers purchase with the intent of returning.

Clients may be unhappy with their order for quite a lot of causes—it arrived broken, they ordered the unsuitable measurement, or it merely did not meet their expectations, so that they ask for a substitute or a refund.

However, with no correct system for dealing with them, these requests can eat up a whole lot of time, power, and cash with hours spent on customer support emails and spikes in transport bills for substitute merchandise, particularly after the vacations.

The excellent news is that it’s by no means too late to handle the issue. With excellent return coverage and the appropriate system in place, returns and exchanges might be remodeled from a dreaded facet of commerce into a possibility that indeed generates new income for your online business and will increase buyer loyalty.

However, earlier than we dive into write a return policy to your retailer and implement a system to deal with requests, let’s speak about why it’s so necessary to get returns and exchanges proper.

Return policy is the principle a retailer creates to handle how clients return and trade undesirable merchandise they bought. A return coverage tells clients what objects might be replaced and what causes, and the timeframe over which returns are accepted. Why have return policy and coverage? Getting a return request might be painful financially and emotionally. Refunding a buyer’s order may end up in a lack of profitability, and realizing that somebody disliked your product might be disheartening for enterprise homeowners who firmly imagine the advantages of what they promote. For these causes, it may be tempting to disregard the truth of returns and exchanges and go away the mounting downside unaddressed.

The pitfalls of a poor return policy

Over time, nonetheless, buyer complaints about your return policy coverage can begin to filter onto social media, displaying up as feedback underneath your advertisements and even in Google searches about your online business. That is the place a poorly applied returns system begins to affect your real popularity as an enterprise negatively. If dangerous sentiment concerning the shopping for expertise begins to unfold online, it’s probably you will notice a drop in conversion charge.

Processing each return manually and coping with clients on a case-by-case foundation may also be costly for your online business operations and exhausting customer support workers. If the time and expense to a return or trade course aren’t monitored and optimized, it will possibly even forestall you from scaling your online business.

Return Policy

What’s a return coverage, and why do you want one?

In some unspecified time in the future, most companies might want to determine an answer for returns and exchanges that advantages themselves and their clients.

Some great benefits of a customer-centric return policy

Many modern companies have acknowledged {that} customer-centric return coverage is a powerful advertising software.UPS, 68% of consumers verify an internet site’s return and trade coverage earlier than making a purchase order. That’s why many manufacturers now promote “free,” “straightforward,” and “no-hassle” returns and exchanges to extend conversion charges and online purchases.

A return coverage that advantages the shopper is usually the differentiator between companies with a powerful repeat buy charge and people who depend on one-time purchases solely. As the fee to amass clients rise, many companies retain clients and enhance their lifetime worth. Though a return or trade could not make an enterprise worthwhile on the first buy, the higher buyer expertise is extra prone to result in the next retention charge and long-term income development.

Lastly, your popularity will profit most from providing straightforward returns and exchanges to clients. Based on Nielson’s World Belief in Promoting Report, 66% of individuals surveyed believe client opinions posted online. These constructive buyer opinions and word-of-mouth suggestions concerning the shopping for expertise will repay as free advertising for your online business that may permit it to thrive within the long term.

Organizing an RMA system for returns and exchanges

In eCommerce, the shopper often decides independently if they need a return (which signifies a refund) or a trade (often for a present card or a substitute product of equal worth). If a buyer needs a return, they say that the product didn’t meet their expectations for one purpose or one other and desired a refund. A trade alternative may imply they only selected the unsuitable merchandise or damaged or ripped the product. You will need to distinguish early on in your system which of the 2 classes the shopper falls into, so you know how to course their request. Whether or not a product is eligible to be returned or exchanged, or each, must be thought of earlier than it’s offered and clearly acknowledged in your website’s return coverage web page.

How do you arrange an RMA system?

Thankfully, as we speak, retailers can arrange a returns administration portal on their websites shortly and. You should use a Shopify app like AfterShip Returns Middle to handle returns and auto-ship return labels at no cost.

With AfterShip, it’s also possible to:

  • Create the course of a self-service return. Clients can submit returns by themselves in only a few clicks without contacting your assist staff.
  • Arrange automated notifications. Ship clients updates about their return promptly. You can select from pre-set notifications or create your individual.
  • Ship transport labels. You possibly can set returns guidelines that match your return policy and refund coverage, auto-generate transport labels, and even supply discounted USPS labels for those who promote in the US.

A superb RMA system not solely takes the effort out of managing return requests; it additionally creates pleasant post-purchase expertise that builds loyalty and turns returns into gross sales for your online business.

Easy methods to write a return coverage (+ free return coverage template)

On the condition that 96% of individuals would store with a retailer once more based primarily on a “straightforward” or “very straightforward” return expertise, let’s take a look at writing an excellent return coverage. Step one to organizing a system to deal with returns and exchanges is formalizing your coverage so you’ll be able to talk it clearly to your clients. A written return coverage means that you can deal with all requests identical and keep away from the tendency to deal with issues on a case-by-case foundation, which is usually much less productive and costlier.

Insurance policies will differ relying on the logistics of your eCommerce enterprise and the merchandise you promote; however, each coverage ought to cowl the next fundamentals:

  • What objects might be returned
  • What objects might be exchanged
  • What merchandise is “last sale” (i.e., non-returnable, non-exchangeable)
  • When issues might be returned or exchanged (i.e.. 30, 60, or 90 days previous buy date)
  • In what situation can objects be returned (i.e., calmly worn, with tags nonetheless on, unique packaging, unique situation, and so forth.)
  • What merchandise might be returned for (i.e., retailer credit score, refund, a product of equal worth, and so forth.)
  • Easy methods to provoke a return or trade (i.e., an e-mail tackle to contact or an internet web page to go to)

Be aware that if your retailer utilizes Amazon, eBay, or Etsy as a gross sales channel, be mindful that these marketplaces have their own returns insurance policies. What you state in your retail return coverage could not apply if utilizing these channels.

Ecommerce return coverage template

Beneath is a primary template for return coverage that may be tailored to suit your enterprise. Substitute the bolded textual content with your coverage and use the lists as information to make sure you don’t neglect to incorporate any necessary data: When you’re trying to return or trade your order for no matter purpose, we’re right here to assist! We provide free returns or exchanges within 30 days of buy. You can return your product for retailer credit scorecompletely different product, or a refund to the unique cost methodology. Please be aware of the next exceptions to our return and refund coverage.

Beneath are some examples of widespread exceptions: 

  • Discounted objects are last and can’t be returned or exchanged
  • Returned objects will need to have tags nonetheless on and be returned in unique product packaging
  • Returned objects will need to have no seen indicators of damage or use

To provoke a return or trade, please full the next steps:

Your steps must be laid out clearly, linking to related pages reminiscent of your online portal.

  1. Login to our online return portal utilizing your e-mail tackle and order ID.
  2. Select the merchandise you want to return or trade out of your order.
  3. Print the pay-as-you-go transport label that you’ll obtain by e-mail.
  4. Ship all objects again to us utilizing the label supplied.

Extra Data:

The next are add-ons with extra data that you could be need to embody:

  • How long it takes to obtain your refund, substitute product, or retailer credit score
  • Any transport charges the shopper might want to pay
  • Any return restocking charges the shopper might want to pay
  • The way you deal with misplaced or broken returns
  • Contact data for your online business if the shopper has extra questions

After writing your return policy coverage, use the following video to add it to your Shopify retailer.

Tip: Don’t you really feel like writing your individual return coverage? Use this Return Coverage Generator to create a return coverage that protects your retailer and builds belief with consumers.

The place to place a typical return coverage

It’s not sufficient to have a well-written return and trade coverage—you could additionally ensure that clients see it earlier than they purchase. When speaking to a pissed-off buyer who’s attempting to return merchandise marked as the last sale, merely telling them it’s their fault for not studying the coverage is unlikely to resolve the difficulty.

Embrace hyperlinks to your coverage in several hard-to-miss locations through your website to save lots of time going back-and-forth with clients who didn’t see the range. A couple of crucial locations to checklist your coverage embody:

One excellent return coverage instance comes from Chubbies, a web-based clothes retailer. The model consists of return and trade questions in its website chat window. You can too begin a return policy with one click.

If the return and trade coverage is clearly outlined on your website, so it will possibly be missed by clients, the appropriate expectations will probably be set earlier than the acquisition is made. There’ll probably be some clients who’re unhappy together with your retailer’s coverage; however, hiding the range in high-quality print solely results in the absence of belief.

Instruments to energy your returns and refund coverage

Similar to having a proper return and trade coverage will assist remove a few of the hours spent on customer support. Utilizing the appropriate providers for processing returns and exchanges will prevent each money and time on the transport and achievement and operations sides. Similar to having a proper return and trade coverage will assist remove a few of the hours spent on customer support. Utilizing the appropriate providers for processing returns and exchanges will prevent each money and time on the transport and achievement and operations sides.

Shopify Delivery and Order Administration

Retailers who use Shopify Delivery profit from reductions with carriers for each outbound and return transport. With order administration in Shopify, you’ll be able to handle returns and refunds in a single centralized place, together with the flexibility to generate a return transport label for orders. Return labels are “pay on the scan,” which implies return labels are solely charged as soon as they’ve been used. Like those under, return and trade apps make processing returns and exchanges extra self-serve for purchasers by providing a portal where they will make a return request, obtain a return transport label, or select merchandise they need to trade merchandise for.

Return Magic

Utilized by over 2,000 eCommerce shops, Return Magic is a return and trade answer that integrates with your current logistics system.

Return Magic additionally makes use of Shopify product tags to permit companies to arrange personalized guidelines for returning and exchanging sure merchandise:

For companies that promote all kinds of merchandise with entirely different return guidelines, the ability to customize your coverage with these triggers can save valuable time going forwards and backward with clients.

Only options like these show that return and trade guidelines don’t must be one-size-fits-all. Like shopping throughout a flash sale, particular circumstances can nonetheless be considered inside an automatic system.


Returnly is likely one of the more superior self-service returns suppliers for eCommerce shops. The app supplies online shops with their very own customizable “Returns Middle,” which clients can signal into utilizing their order quantity or e-mail tackle to enter their previous purchases and choose objects they want to return.

Outside Voices’ return heart utilizing the Returnly app.

Return presents the choice to buy pre-paid transport labels on the service provider facet by way of the app and get entry to its transport charges or the flexibility to add your transport labels to ship to clients. This customization extends to virtually all different elements of the return circulation, the place you’ll be able to determine what merchandise clients can return or trade, who pays for the transport label, and whether or not they’re given a retailer credit score or full refund.

One of Returnly’s essential differentiators is its On spot Refund characteristic, which presents clients a retailer credit score they will use to reorder earlier than sending their unique buy again. However, if the shopper doesn’t return the product, use the spot Refund credit score; Returnly covers the fee.

By offering a direct retailer credit score, Returnly discovered that consumers had been three times extra prone to buy once more from the shop. This characteristic helps rework returns and exchanges into repeat buy alternatives. Construct stronger relationships with Shopify PingShopify Ping connects to the messaging apps you already use to deliver all of your conversations right into a single cellular location, making it simpler to reply to questions and construct relationships with clients—even if you’re on the go.

Get Shopify Ping

Methods for extra worthwhile returns and exchanges

An unavoidable consequence of providing returns and exchanges to clients is that it’s not low cost. Though you’ll be able to lower down customer support hours with an app, the transport charges related to returning a product and restocking it will possibly nonetheless threaten your profitability. Nevertheless, there are just a few methods to reduce your losses, providing returns and exchanges to clients.

1. Flip returns into exchanges

The distinction between returns and exchanges is most outstanding when profitability. When a buyer returns a product for a refund, the enterprise often loses cash on the shopper acquisition and return transport prices, plus it must refund the shopper any revenue made on the unique order. With trade, the loss is usually much less impactful. Providing a substitute product substitute for a full refund can maintain your online business circulation constructive with robust product margins. A standard solution to encourage exchanges over returns is by solely providing to cowl the price of return transport if the shopper chooses to trade the product.

When introduced with the three choices above, selecting to get a retailer credit score or new product could also be extra interesting to those who haven’t absolutely sworn off your model. Convincing clients to offer your model a second likelihood with a brand new order can even assist enhance lifetime worth, as they’re extra prone to come again and buy once more if they’re glad the second time around. Chubbies take this additional value-add for exchanges a step additional by providing a further $10 in buy worth if clients determine to purchase a brand new product with their return credit score:

By solely making the trade choice extra worthwhile and never penalizing clients who need to return, Chubbies creates constructive buyer expertise for everybody, encouraging extra clients to decide on exchanges to substitute for returns.

2. Promote product warranties

When a buyer chooses to return a product for a refund or trade, one threat an organization typically takes on is whether or not or not it will likely be capable of reselling the merchandise.

It will probably generally take as much as two weeks for a product to re-enter inventory after a return is initiated, and the time spent in transit and unpacking can typically go away if broken. If the product is dear, changing it may not be a reasonably priced choice.

For costlier objects, firms could need to take into account promoting product warranties to clients. Contracts shield companies from paying to interchange broken merchandise and avoiding disputes over who’s responsible.

Warranties might be offered by way of an app like Clyde, which might be added to your website to place the choice to guard the order again within the buyer’s arms:

Warranties like this will even have the potential to unlock a brand new income stream for your online business because suppliers typically supply a fee on all premiums offered. With that approach, your clients are protected for the long term, and your online business collects a bit of additional income as a substitute for paying for broken items.

3. Upsell or cross-sell on trade requests

One eCommerce returns greatest apply is to upsell or cross-sell on trade requests. Though exchanges are often extra worthwhile than returns, their profitability might be slenderly relying on the product and its margins. If sales are nonetheless pricey, it may be an excellent suggestion to look at upselling or cross-selling on exchanges.

When a buyer comes again to your website to use their retailer credit score, there is a chance to indicate them new merchandise they didn’t buy the primary time round that flatter what they’re exchanging for. Varied Shopify apps can be utilized to indicate clients associated merchandise at checkout.

Be sure to regulate your transport coverage for returns and exchanges. In the circumstances where clients cowl the price of transport on an exchanged merchandise, it might make sense to permit them to add extra merchandise to their cart to achieve a free transport threshold. Upselling can be done when you realize the rationale for the trade and may make a personalized suggestion for the following priced merchandise that addresses the precise wants that weren’t glad on their first buy.

For instance, if a buyer is exchanging a digital digicam as a result of discovering that it was too heavy, you’ll be able to suggest a lighter-weight model that may have the next buy value but resolves the difficulty they’d with their first order. Each trade as a brand new alternative to extend order worth by upselling or cross-selling, the motivation to transform extra returns into exchanges becomes clear.

Profiting from your return and refund coverage

Irrespective of how a lot of effort you set into your product and buyer expertise as you develop your online business, the likelihood is you’ll nonetheless encounter just a few unhappy clients alongside the best way.

How small companies determine to cope with these unhappy clients is a crucial issue within the endurance of your model. An organization that figures out a comparatively painless transport technique to deal with return and trade requests is extra prone to retain its clients and have them come again and buy once more or, higher but, inform their mates.

Writing a transparent return coverage that feeds right into a well-thought-out return and trade system—and commonly optimizing it to make it extra environment friendly—is a solid solution to lower prices and doubtlessly flip nasty buyer expertise right into a web constructive consequence for your online business.

Illustration by Pete Ryan

Return coverage FAQ

Is a return a refund?

No. A return is when a buyer sends merchandise again to your retailer or warehouse. They often must return merchandise earlier than they get a refund. A refund means giving the shopper all or a few of them a rebate for undesirable merchandise.

What’s a return and refund coverage?

A return and refund coverage is a settlement between clients and your online business concerning returns and refunds. It will probably embody the next data:

  • What number of days they must return a product
  • The way you give refunds, whether or not by way of bank card, debit card, or substitute
  • Who pays the transport costs for returns
  • What you supply refunds for
  • What number of enterprise days it takes to obtain a refund

Are refunds legally required?

Relying on your nation and state legal guidelines, you’ll be able to have a no refund, no return coverage technically. However, a no return coverage could make clients mistrust your model and abandon a purchase order.

How do I make a return coverage?

  1. Create a return coverage that builds belief with clients.
  2. Be clear and concise when writing your return coverage.
  3. Don’t demand issues out of your clients.
  4. Make your return coverage straightforward to search out and enter on your website.
  5. Be sure your groups know your return and refund coverage.
  6. Take duty for errors.
  7. Give examples of your coverage in motion.


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