How To Write A Killer Ecommerce Return Policy

Watch this video to learn more about creating a killer policy that will benefit your online store and operations.

Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Volusion



Here’s the transcript if  you’d like to read along:

Hi everybody! My name is Matt and I’m an Online Communications Specialist here at Volusion. Welcome to Two Minute Tuesdays, where we give you two minutes of ecommerce advice to bolster your online success. Today we’re going to help answer a very common customer question, “How do I write my ecommerce return policy?” If you’re seeing lots of returned orders and chargebacks on your statements, pay attention to these tips to help reduce the number of returns and reduce costs.

First off, prevent returns before they happen. People usually return products because their expectations weren’t met. Thus, make sure your product descriptions and photos are up to par so customers know what they’re getting into before they open the box.

Next, try to speak in customers’ language. If you have a lawyer write your ecommerce return policy, or simply have it written with lots of legal speak, you’ll be covered. However, not everyone is a lawyer. So try to tone it back a bit so customers truly understand your policy. By speaking in layman’s terms, you can get your message across while reducing confusion and arguments in the event that an item is returned.

Third, you need to make sure that you indicate any return charges within your policy. Zappos is known for its free return shipping, but we’re not all Zappos, nor do we have that kind of budget. So if you do charge return shipping, you need to explicitly state that within your policy, otherwise customers will raise hell when they try to return their items for free.

Next, you also need to state the timeframe for return and how they’ll receive credit. By timeframe, I mean, do they have 30, 60, 90, 120 or more days to return the items? And by credit policy, will customers receive a store credit or a cash refund? Depending on your  budget and what your customers want, you can select the best options to help boost confidence and customer satisfaction in the event of a product return.

Make sure you list all of your requirements upfront for any returns. For example: Do they need to return the product in its original packaging? Can they open the product beforehand? What specific address do they send it to? Do they need to include the receipt upon return? Think of all the different dependencies for your policy and include them.

Finally, promote your policy on your site and elsewhere. You can place it prominently on your website, include your ecommerce return policy within your confirmation emails, and even include a printed version directly in the shipping box. Whatever the case, sharing your policy upfront will help set expectations for customers and help legitimize your online business.

If you have any questions about ecommerce return policies, or any inquiries about selling online, just let us know – we’re happy to help.

From me to you, happy selling!


Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

2 Responses to “How To Write A Killer Ecommerce Return Policy”

  1. Ahmed Bukhammas

    Dear Matt,
    I own a newly established e-commerce website. Our concept is basically promoting for other people’s products. So, each of our customers (who we are promoting their products) has his own return policy in their physical shop. We have thought of advising them to state their return policy so we can write it in their page. What is your recommendation in our case?

    Kind regards,

    • Matt

      Hi Ahmed,

      I’m not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV), so I’m not 100% sure on any legal implications on this one. You might want to check with a legal expert to make absolute certain. It seems, though, that since your vendors will be shipping and fulfilling their own products that your customers would need to abide by the specific return policy. If you can’t list the entire return policy on your site, you could always link back over to it. Either way you decide, I do recommend that you have the return policies visible and accessible to your customers – it will end up saving you a lot of trouble in the long run.

      Thanks for watching!


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