9 Tips on Creating an Ecommerce Return Policy

9 Tips on Creating an Ecommerce Return Policy


If you have an online store but are lacking an ecommerce return policy, there has never been a better time to put one together.

Having a solid return policy inspires confidence in buyers and shows you're committed to customer service. Even though the customer isn't satisfied with the returned purchase, handling the return professionally will ensure their continued patronage.

A comprehensive ecommerce return policy will reduce the time and money you spend on returns, minimize the number of returns, and keep your customers coming back. Here are 9 handy tips on creating a return policy that'll keep your customers satisfied without breaking the bank:

1. All Sales NOT Final

There aren't many successful brick-and-mortar retailers that don't accept returns. Online stores should be no different. You should stand behind your product, and if a customer doesn't like a certain purchase - don't make it difficult for them to return the item. The nature of the product (ie. intimate, clearance, damaged) obviously may determine whether you issue a full-refund, partial, exchange, or perhaps none at all.  

2. Prevent The Return

People return products when they are disappointed with their purchase. Minimize disappointment by creating accurate product descriptions and proper product photography. If the products you're selling have informative descriptions and proper pictures (or even product videos), you'll greatly reduce the number of returns.

3. Use Plain English

Don't go crazy with complicated legal jargon. Using complex terms that can only be deciphered after watching a season of Boston Legal will be confusing to your consumers. Use terms that everyone can understand and it will be easier for customers to follow your policy.


4. Make It Easy To Find

Make sure your policy isn't hidden away. Post your return policy on your website, on customer correspondence, on receipts and even in the package so that customers have every opportunity to review your return policy.


5. No Hidden Return Costs

Nothing is worse than getting hit by hidden costs. Don't hide anything, if it's up to the customer to pay for return shipping - make that very clear. 

6. Time Frame Limitations

It's normal to give a specific time frame to accept returns. You certainly don't want to accept a return a year later, so it's important to define how long the customer has to make up their mind. Tell your customers if they must return the product within 30, 60 or 90 days of purchase. Also, you should have a separate time frame for damaged or malfunctioning products. 

7. Exchange, Credit, Cash?

State whether the customer can expect to exchange the item, get store credit, or enjoy a cash return. Every merchant has their own preference, and you shouldn't feel pressured to offer "full-refund, no questions asked." In the event of a malfunctioning or damaged item, it shouldn't be the customer's responsibility to pay extra for anything. Make every effort to replace the item, or give a full refund without incurring any costs to the customer.

8. Knowledgable Staff

Ensure that all staff members are up to date with your return policy procedures so they can assist customers effectively. 

9. Check The Batteries

Make sure that the customer has assembled the product correctly. If the product requires batteries, ensure that they've been inserted properly. Make sure that the product is correctly installed and turned on before deeming it damaged.


  • Deyson
    November 13 2012, 04:23PM

    What are your views on a return policy on digital goods.

  • stephanie swimmer
    stephanie swimmer
    January 07 2013, 01:49PM

    I am trying to find out the average % of retunrs from an ecommerce site. I am looking to build a clothing site, knowing on average the % of returns for clothing is important for planning my return policy, storage of items, etc. any info about this?
    thank you!

  • Andy
    January 14 2013, 05:12AM

    What if the customer damages the digital product himself and says that the product delivered is damaged.

    How to handle a scenario where the customer alters the product parts in some way and says that they were delivered malfunctioned.

    I am asking these questions because I want to start a store that sells used electronics online. These questions are boggling my mind. Please shed some light on this.

  • suhana
    April 09 2013, 09:07AM

    Today i came across this amazing new website named nupinch.com…i really think you guys should check it out..
    Link: http://bit.ly/XczfI3

  • Indya
    July 03 2013, 03:07PM

    Andy, The way you handle returns on damaged items is you always have to ship the items yourself. If you’re drop shipping, that may become a problem for you, so I’d advise to have the items shipped to where ever you are first for you to look over, then ship them out from there.

    To the writer, I’m a little confused as to how to give in store credit. Is there an app in Shopify where I can give store credits to the customer who returned their item?

  • phil
    July 17 2013, 07:00PM

    Stephanie, Globally returns usually sit at around 30%. Australians tend to be more careful shoppers and the returns rate varies between 13 and 20%

  • Jesse Badwal
    Jesse Badwal
    November 23 2016, 02:42PM

    @Indya, apps.shopify.com/rewardify is an easy way to manage store credit for Customers and also has incentive options to help drive revenues and lower your abandoned checkout percentage.

  • Jeff Bronson
    Jeff Bronson
    January 24 2017, 01:50AM

    I know this is an older post, but I wanted to contribute something relevant and actionable for what happens AFTER the return policy is created. Product returns are a big problem, some retailers almost like to ‘hide’ in the hopes it will not cross their shopper’s mind.

    Wrong way to approach this of course. Offering returns for a longer than usual time frame can be an interesting tactic to test.

    I wrote a long post about using product returns as a value proposition, your Shopify readers may find actionable, if you don’t mind my sharing this here:

  • Thomas hill
    Thomas hill
    August 05 2017, 04:49PM

    Small retailers often find it hard to offer return options to compete with the larger players due to their return volumes. Working with the leading carrier we have solved this issue and built a return solution for small retailers. If you would like to find out more please visit clicksit.com

  • James
    January 14 2018, 08:57AM

    this is Too old post, but just want to contribute.
    could you please tell what is the coustumer disadvantages of these types of site.

  • serg
    April 15 2018, 03:50PM

    hey, I was offended
    I know how to get your money back and successfully punish the company you need to deal with cunning and insidious firms who want to hug you,
    but I know how to help you
    I have written a book that will help you reimburse hundreds of dollars and punish criminals.
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    July 14 2018, 05:25AM


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