Those little details – like a return policy

May 8, 2011

Web Design

I read an article some time back asserting that a customer friendly return policy is proven to increase your e-commerce sales revenue. The idea appealed to me – after all, getting people to do what you ask them to do has a lot to do with reassuring your potential customers that they’re going to get good value for their time, information and money. A friendly return policy is just one more assurance.

But “proven”? I’m all about the numbers. I had to see this.

Unfortunately, the article I read didn’t reference there this incredible fact came from, do I did some searching.

A lot of searching. I found a lot of return policies, but it took me awhile to find anything studying or evaluating return policies.

Yes, I know, you found it already. But if there’s anyone who hasn’t, go here (What’s a Return Policy Worth, by Roger Dooley). Roger was kind enough to link to the original study by MIT and Northwestern. Now that’s a writer that I can appreciate.

When I finally found it, I learned that, yes, a customer friendly return policy *will* increase the dollars per transaction on your e-commerce website. But the type of product yields different amounts. This was interesting to my current project. While the products to be sold on the soon-to-be website are not specifically researched in the study, I now know this is worth of testing. Processing returns is altogether a pain, with nothing tangible to show for it. You’ve spent all this time processing a shipment there and a shipment back and accounting for it all, and you still have your product and probably a loss in cash at the same time. Sure, you get a happy customer. Maybe. And they’ll tell all their friends. Maybe. And they’ll come back and spend more money later on. Maybe. But where’s the proof?

What’s fun, is that when I mentioned this study to the sales director, her eyes lit up and all arguments against accepting returns fell away. I love a good scientific study.

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