Refund Policy


Discover how to create your shipping and returns policy, including:

  • General guidelines
  • Items to address
  • How to roll out your policy
  • How to remain competitive as a small business

Providing a comprehensive policy for returns and exchanges instills confidence in you, your business and your products. And trust has a huge impact on your bottom line. One study featured in the Journal of Marketing found that customers who received free shipping on returns increased their purchases over the next two years by 58 to 357%.

Developing a comprehensive plan can actually reduce the resources you spend on returns and keep your customers coming back. Even though the customer may not be satisfied with their original purchase, handling the return professionally will ensure their continued patronage.

Loyalty is earned by providing an awesome experience even when your product or service wasn’t a perfect fit.

How to Write a Great Returns Policy

When it comes to updating or even adding a returns policy to your site, there are a few best practices to abide by. We’ll outline these below, but we’ve also included some additional tips and tactics on what to include.

This is a potential differentiation factor between you and your competitors. Be sure you offer the better customer service experience from beginning to end, starting with ensuring they know your  policy and ending by living up to your customer’s expectations of your promise.

  1. Don’t hide your policy. You customers should never have to go on a scavenger hunt to find information on your store. Keep this in broad daylight on your main menu. Or, if you’re comfortable, shout it from the rooftops by placing it in places like your carousel and banners throughout your store. But, the best place to put an ecommerce return policy is in your confirmation emails on purchases. Let those who have already bought know that you are dedicated to them liking their product, and that if they don’t –– they can always return it. Being your customers biggest advocate is a great way to foster lifetime loyalty.
  2. Never (ever, ever, ever) copy and paste. This goes for nearly anything on your site (especially product descriptions), but a returns and exchange policy is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Personalize it to your specific business and target audience. Make this a fun page to read and reiterate your commitment to your customers. Include, if possible, customer reviews of the experience as well. Use this page as a testimonial spot on your site –– one that you can use to prove to potential customers that not only do people love your products, but that even when they don’t, you still treat everyone with respect, dignity and fairness.
  3. Use plain English. Yes, you want to talk to your target audience, but avoid using words that send people running for a dictionary. You don’t want to confuse anyone –– especially those Google bots that can help boost your SEO. Use keywords. Reiterate your promise. Incorporate real customer feedback. Rinse. Repeat.
  4. Avoid the scary stuff. Try not to use phrases like “you must” and “you are required” or, one of the worst, “we are not responsible for.” Long story short, make your returns process easy. In fact, your returns process should be just as easy as it was to buy the item in the first place. Don’t offload the issue on the customer.
  5. Outline what they can expect from you. Do you exchange, offer store credit or return their money? Every merchant has their own preference, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to offer only a full refund. Determine what works best for your unique business. You can even A/B test here to see which offerings your customers prefer.
  6. Set expectations for your customer. What’s the procedure for a return or exchange? Does the customer need to use your packaging or can they use their own? Do they need to include the order slip? Is there a limited time in which a return or exchange can be completed? Who pays for shipping? You or your customer? Outline the specific process and guidelines. Make your ecommerce shipping policy and returns understandable and straight-forward.
  7. Educate your staff. Make sure all employees are up to date with your return policy and procedures so they can assist customers quickly and effectively.
  8. Be prepared to eat the cost of your mistakes. If you messed up, be honest and make it right. If you shipped the wrong item, or packaged it poorly, you should be willing to make it right no matter what the official policy is. We all make mistakes, it’s how you handle those mistakes that matters.

Finally, don’t forget to play fair. If you make a change to your policy, be sure to honor the old policy if an order was placed before the change took place.