Consumers today are more informed, more connected and more fastidious than they’ve ever been. It’s a reality that affords both benefits and challenges for modern businesses.

On one hand, you’ve got customers who put a lot of thought, effort and consideration into their purchases, which means they are engaged throughout the process and, as a result, more likely to complete the transaction.

On the other hand, the amount of information today’s consumers are armed with makes them a formidable force when it comes to securing the deal. They know the best prices, the most attractive retailer policies and the places with the best customer service.

The bottom line is that retailers (both online and offline) must do all they can to stand out from the crowd. We already know that price isn’t the great differentiator it used to be, so more innovative concepts are needed to help solidify sales.

One area where retailers can genuinely differentiate themselves is through the returns policies they offer. But don’t just take our word for it. Recent research by Rebound shows that a whopping 92% of consumers say returns policies are an important consideration, with 49% admitting they are very important.

So how can you make your returns policy more attractive for your customers and potential customers?

1. Keep it simple

Have you ever bought something online and wanted to return it for whatever reason only to be stopped in your tracks by a returns procedure that was nothing short of an administrative and logistical nightmare? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.

Returns procedures and policies need to be simple. If you ask people to jump through hoops just to return a product, chances are they will shop elsewhere in the future. Online returns forms, printable packing labels and intuitive instructions are the name of the game.

2. Don’t be shy, highlight your returns policy

Your returns policy should be something you are proud to display and by doing so you will instil even more trust and confidence in your customers. Obvious places to display it are on your business homepage, product pages, FAQ section and checkout pages. It’s also a good idea to include a link to your returns policy in any email correspondence you send to your customers relating to their order(s).

Companies that keep their returns policies hidden away out of sight usually do so for a reason. Be proud of yours and make it one of your USPs.

3. Offer free returns packaging

Many people don’t have large envelopes or jiffy bags lying around their home, which means they have to go out and spend some money just to get the item they want to return in suitable shape to do so. That’s why many companies choose to offer free return packaging.

Once a return has been initiated, the retailer sends out the return packaging to the customer. Said packaging already has the retailer’s name, address and other info necessary for the return on it. This not only saves the customer time, but also money. It’s a small investment for a retailer to make, but one that is win-win in terms of customer service and reputation management.

4. Stay in contact throughout the process

Finally, if someone returns an item, be sure to keep them updated about the status of their return. People don’t want to follow up their return every other day (believe it or not) and by keeping them in the loop you will show you are a retailer who really cares about their customers.

Even if it’s just a quick email to say that the return is still being processed and there’s nothing further the customer needs to do. These small considerations can make a huge difference and help further cement the relationships you have with your customers.

While the list of ideas above is mainly geared towards online retailers, many of the concepts can be adopted by retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence too.

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