We surveyed over 300 consumers, with the goal of learning exactly what they want from their returns experience. Here’s what we found.

The 5 things your customers want in a return policy

You might be wondering: are my customers actually going to look at my return policy? Our survey responses indicate “yes.” 54% of respondents said they regularly check a brand’s return policy before making an online purchase.

We asked shoppers what the most important thing to find on a return policy is. Here are the results:

1. Who Pays return shipping (44.5%) 

By far the most important piece of information that your customers want to see in a return policy is your return shipping costs. Specifically, customers want to know who is going to be responsible for covering the cost of shipping.

The answer to this question can have a significant impact on your conversion rates. Our survey found that a whopping 74% of customers would be hesitant to shop from a brand that charges them for return shipping.

74% of customers would be hesitant to shop from a brand that charges for return shipping.

That’s why we encourage brands to cover the return shipping fee, where possible. If you can’t afford to offer free shipping for all types of returns, at the very least cover the cost for exchanges. This will incentivize the right behaviors and reap the benefits of shielding consumers from the shipping fee. We guarantee this small upfront investment will lead to better conversions, loyal customers, and a higher AOV.

2. The length of the return window (29.7%) 

Almost 30% of customers want to know the length of your return window. Not only are they curious to find out how much time they’ll have to make a decision, but people also use the length of the window as an indication of how flexible your brand will be if anything were to go wrong.

Again, the length of your return window can have a powerful influence on a customer’s purchasing decisions. 33.8% of consumers would think twice before shopping with a brand that has too short of a return window. While it may be tempting to default to the 30-day return window that every other brand offers, there’s no evidence to prove this is the optimal amount of time.

At Loop, we see 80% of the returns we process happen in the first 14 days. This means you can offer a much more generous window since you know the majority of customers will be returning in 14 days anyway. Still not convinced?

We see 80% of returns we process happen in the first 14 days.

Research from the University of Texas has found that a longer return window actually makes returns less likely.

3. Return restrictions (11.6%)

Coming in third in the rankings are return restrictions. Customers want to know up front whether the item they’re interested in purchasing will be eligible for returns. This is so important to consumers that 39% of survey respondents said a policy that’s too strict on what can’t be returned is likely to deter them from making a purchase in the first place.

To avoid any confusion around return restrictions, be as clear as possible in your policy. Specifically, address the condition of the item and the type of item and how these factors will affect return eligibility. For example, what exactly constitutes a “worn” item? Do you accept returns on accessories and bathing suits? These are the types of questions that need to be explicitly answered in your policy.

4. The exchange process (9.7%)

Contrary to popular belief, not every customer wants a refund when they request a return. In fact, many of our survey respondents said they look for information about exchanges in a brand’s return policy. 

Exchanges are great for customers because it gets the right product in their hands. It’s also great for your business because it leads to retained revenue, builds brand loyalty, and increases LTV.  So don’t miss out on this opportunity to offer exchanges to your customers. Even better: use an automated return portal for exchanges since 27.9% of respondents said they would be unlikely to purchase from a brand that forces them to interact with the support team for returns.

27.9% of repondents said they are hesitant to buy from brands that force them to email or call to start a return.

5. How to start the return process (3.9%)

Some return policies don’t actually make it clear how to start the returns process. Don’t let this be your brand. You might think that burying this information will make it less likely that your customers will request returns. But people will eventually figure it out and all you’re doing is frustrating them during the process.

To avoid this confusion, we recommend adding a direct link to your automated return portal in your policy. This will make it as seamless and intuitive as possible for customers to start the returns process. This approach will also help your business in the long run since 92% of consumers have stated that they’ll buy something again if returns are easy.

Did any of these surprise you?

Now that you know what your customers want to see in your return policy, go review your own and make sure it checks all the boxes. Even if you have all five pieces of information covered, ask yourself if you’re putting your brand’s best foot forward in every aspect of your policy. Need support shaping your returns experience? Feel free to get in touch with our team.