That’s been verified by many consumer behavior studies. But researchers at University of Texas-Arlington and University of Texas-Dallas wondered which characteristics of the return policies made the most difference. They reviewed twenty-one prior papers on the topic. Here’s my version of what they found:
- Policies that appear simple to the shopper and offer money or monetary credit for the return have the greatest effect on increasing subsequent purchases.
- Policies that are offer exchanges rather than money or monetary credit reduce the rates of return.
- Return rates are greater for retailers who are lenient about the time by which a return must be made or about allowable reasons for the return.
- Yes, you're posting the return policy. But if customers are in line at a returns desk, can they easily see the policy while waiting? A printed notice isn't as good as a wall posting. Consumers often don't pay attention to what return policies are until they bring in an item. If they're returning a gift, they might not be familiar with your store at all. Can't fit the returns policy onto a posting on the wall? Make a note to simplify the policy soon. How frustrating to a customer to wait in line to make a return only to be surprised to learn the return won't be accepted!
- Yes, you've trained staff on all the terms of the return policy. But can staff members keep their explanations to irritated customers brief? Staff members who are flustered often resort to reciting too much of the policy instead of explaining in plain language only the specific part of the policy that applies.
- Yes, you know that asking each customer the reason for the return is a good way both to improve your inventory and to curb fraud. But are you training and coaching your staff to make this a service-oriented inquiry, not an inquisition? Keep questions brief. If a customer asks, "Why do you need to know this?," reply, “I realize it’s a bother to you to have to return merchandise you’ve bought from us. I want to be sure we deal with suppliers who will provide you, your family, and your friends with reliable products the first time, every time.”
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Simplify Item Returns for Customers
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