how to write a return policy

Is your return policy an afterthought, something you cobbled together years ago in response to your first returned product? Done right, a well-crafted return policy can be a source of customer satisfaction that gets customers to stick with you longer and spend more money.

Customers care about return policies. For example, 49% of buyers check your policy before making their purchase. And 18% of them will abandon your shopping cart if they don’t like your policy or process.

Most significantly, 95% of clients who are satisfied with a retailer’s return process will shop there again! That’s right. The dreaded return will work in your favor as long as its handled correctly.

Aside from customer satisfaction and a good user experience, there are other reasons to have a good policy.

It helps to protect you legally. States and the FTC each have their own laws, rules and guides for returns, guarantees, warranties, refunds and more. It depends on the products or services you offer and the industry in which you operate. Without a clear policy, you’re subject to an arbitrator or judge deciding one for you should a dispute arise.

A clear return policy can reduce customer complaints. When return policies are unclear, complaints are more likely to happen. A clear, written policy, readily available to the consumer, reduces the chance for misunderstanding. It also mitigates the risk should the consumer decide to take action against you.

What Makes a Good Return Policy?

This will, of course, vary from state to state and business to business. Yet there are some fundamental things to cover to ensure your policy inspires confidence, elevates the customer experience and encourages them to complete their purchase.

The five minimum basic areas to cover include the following:

Return requirements

What are your rules and requirements for returning items? What items can’t be returned? How is the client to contact you for a return?


Do you plan to offer refunds for returns or do you only issue store credit? How do you issue refunds and how quickly?


What does a client have to do to exchange an item? Are exchanges allowed? If so, what are the specific terms?


How does a customer return an item to you? Who pays for it? 47% of shoppers expect to have an “easy to print” label available to return an item.

Warranties or Guarantees

Do you offer any warranties or guarantees? What are the specifics of your coverage?

The return policy infographic below from Termly covers the five basic sections in more detail and includes questions to ask when writing your own policy. They also have a free return policy template and an online policy generator to get you started.

A great return policy is an essential component of your customer service program and can grow revenues for years to come.

elements to good return policy



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