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What Is a Return Policy?

A basic return policy explains to customers if you accept returns and offer any refunds or exchanges after they’ve purchased an item they no longer want. 

It sets your customers’ expectations about:

Because return policies are closely associated with shipping and handling questions, they often have a clause that links to a business’s shipping policy

Additions to Your Return Policy

You could write a basic return policy, or supplement it with one of the following:

No Refund Policy

You could include a no refund policy, a type of return policy that explicitly informs customers that you do not provide refunds on items they purchase.

You can write a strict no refund policy or provide more leniency by offering customers item exchanges or store credit.

While you’re not legally required to have a return policy, in some US states, by default, you must provide full refunds on items unless you post a policy stating otherwise.

All Sales Final Policy

Alternatively, you could add an all sales final policy which is a return policy informing your customers that there are no refunds, returns, or exchanges on items after purchase. 

Businesses commonly use this policy for sale or clearance items, customized products, or non-returnable items like delicates or perishables. 

Money Back Guarantee

Another type of return policy might include a money-back guarantee, which promises your customers that they can return an item and receive their money back for any reason after making a purchase.  

You might choose to write this policy on limited items or offer it as a way to encourage customers to finalize more sales. 

Why Is Return Policy Important?

Return policies are important for businesses because they help:

Let’s discuss how return policies help businesses in these ways in the next sections.

Return Policies Set Proper Customer Expectations

A well-written return policy properly sets your customers’ expectations about their options if they purchase an item from you and are unsatisfied. 

Return policies clearly outline the specific requirements for how, when, and under what circumstances shoppers can return goods.

Giving consumers access to it before they make a purchase prevents anyone from feeling surprised by the policies you have in place. 

Return Policies Protect Your Business from Fraudulent Returns

An effective return policy helps protect your business from fraudulent returns by creating a consistent process that makes spotting irregular or inappropriate refund requests easier.

In 2022, 10.7% of online returns were deemed fraudulent (National Retail Federation). The most common types of return fraud businesses cited included:

Because your return policy acts as a binding agreement between you and the customer, you can include clauses allowing you to deny or pursue legal action against such fraudulent returns.  

Return Policies Increase Customer Satisfaction

A well-written return policy demonstrates that you care about your customers and their satisfaction with your goods and services.

Because most people expect to find a return policy on all ecommerce websites or apps, posting one also makes you more legitimate and trustworthy in a customer’s eyes.

If people can’t find a return policy on your site, they might feel like you’re too risky to purchase from.