Customers everywhere want to know that they can return their purchases, should there be a problem. No one in retail is unaware of this fact, but it seems that giving those customers an easy returns process is still not a high priority for businesses in the retail sector.

In fact, according to a recent survey by UPS, “clear and easy” returns policies are still a huge sticking point for many. With only 67 percent of those surveyed reporting satisfaction on this hot topic, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

It’s time to ask yourself, “Just how easy is my easy returns policy?”

Making your Return Policy Easier

Believe it or not, there may be a lot of value in making your return policy much easier to swallow.

Marketing consultant Walker Sands Communications recently found that free returns and exchanges could make 68 percent of shoppers more likely to shop online. Furthermore, this meta-analysis from the University of Texas at Arlington indicated that easier and more lenient returns policies tend to increase overall purchases.

So, how do you know if your policy is easy enough? Look for these signs:

  • Reasonable length of time. One of the biggest factors in returns management is how much time a customer has to decide if they’re going to send a product back.Although you may be uncomfortable with unlimited or even 365-day policies, a 60- or 90-day window will give a shopper enough time to receive their item, open it, inspect it, decide if they’re going to return it and ship it back. Smaller windows can make it hard for customers to make up their minds and also find a drop location, increasing their frustration with your company.
  • No restocking fees. Restocking fees are really just a way to punish your customers for not buying a product, after all.Although they were once traditional for electronics, because so many eCommerce retailers offer the same product with no restocking fee, so must you. Think about how you’d feel if you were the customer and a product arrived that wasn’t at all what you expected. Sometimes poor product photos or inflated descriptions can be misleading and those shoppers who cannot accept the differences between their ideal and reality do not want to be penalized for this.
  • Free return shipping. There are many ways to make returns easier, many of them revolve around this basic decision. Do you offer free return shipping options? If the answer is no, you need to ask yourself why.Sometimes you simply don’t have the margin, and while customers may be frustrated by that, you should at very least include a discounted return shipping label that makes it easy for them to turn their package around and get it back to your warehouse swiftly.

If you’re unsure of how easy your returns policy really is, give it a try. Order something from your store and then send it back, simply for the sake of experimentation. If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough customer communication about the status of your return or that something about the process is bulky and unnecessary, consider how a first-time shopper must feel.