Return Policy for Your Small Business — 4 Things to Consider

Why return policy?

You’ve opened your doors for business, you’re so excited and everything seems to be in place. Customers begin to stop by to check you out, perhaps pick a few items off your shelf; your employees handle requests courteously and timely.

Customer service response time is great and effective, your customers beam with smiles as they hand over their debit cards to the cashier at the check-out area for payment.

This gives you an inclination that they had an awesome shopping experience while at your store…

You don’t seem to be doing badly…

A few days later.

You have two items returned; a replacement and a refund. Oops! You find out this aspect was not put into perspective.

Before you get busted, here’s how to legally prepare for such incidents when they crop up.

Here’s how to draft a simple and concise ‘return policy’ for your small business, but first…

What is a return policy?

For beginners — A refund or return policy is simply an agreement where you inform your customers on your policy for return or refund on any product they purchased at your store.

Classify Your Products

Classify items into short and long moratorium periods. For instance, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) should have a short return period while heavy-duty equipment can have extended periods.

If you have a wide range of products, you’ll need to categorize each product class and state the maximum return time allowed. You’ll need to be reasonable while setting your parameters. If you’ll need help, you can request from a closely related business in your niche, it’s usually not hidden.

Items Eligible for Return

This could be a bit tricky, it’s important that your return policy includes clear acceptance criteria. In such case, nicely coax the customer for a similar replacement. Intimate items like undies may be classed as a ‘No-return’ item most especially if they’ve been worn.

Wears need to have their tags on, electronics and other household items sealed. You physically need to have them checked to ensure it still meets your quality control standards.

Duration Prior to Return & Refunds

Customers most times don’t know your No return/refund criteria and timeframe, so it’s important you let them know to save you lots of return headaches down the road.

You can visibly emboss excerpts of your return policy on the sales receipt, create links to redirect visitors to the refund/return policy webpage, have it posted strategically on the walls of your store.

Mode of Repayment

Decide what compensation method suits your customer, however, maintain a middle ground as customers sometimes could be demanding and want things done their way all the time.

Repayment could be direct credit or cash payment to the customer’s account after all quality checks have been concluded on the returned item.

Ensure return costs are minimal or zero. You can do this by including return charges which may include shipping.  Set your initial product price to take care of this eventuality.

As your activities scale up, you can include more terms to your policy and review in line with consumer shopping patterns and customer behavior.

To see more on return policy guides see ShopRite’s and Jumia’s return policies

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