Problem Solved: Launching a solid returns process on Shopify

December 20, 2017

We’ve written before about the effects that an amazing returns policy can have on your online store.

And we found out a whopping 91% of shoppers asked said they check a website’s return policy before they ever make a purchase. Which makes sense. When making a purchase from a brick-and-mortar store, the feeling is a little more real. You can feel and test the product you’re buying to make sure it’s exactly what you want.

This experience is lost on online shoppers; they can’t touch or hold the thing they’re about to pay for, so every purchase is a bit of a gamble.

We want to help you take the uncertainty out of the buying process, so keep reading to find out how to set up an awesome returns policy on your store that will gain your customers trust and help them complete their purchase. 

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Step 1: Figure out your return rules and policy details

Before you set up a process relating to your returns, you'll want to make sure that you have a well-defined returns policy that is robust enough to protect your business while still being customer-centric and easy to administer. Here are some things to consider:

  • Which products can be returned?
  • How long after being shipped should those products be able to be returned?
  • For what reasons can customers return products?
  • Who should be responsible for shipping costs when products are returned? 
  • Will you charge a restocking fee?
  • Where will customers ship their returned products?

Shopify has a sample refund policy generator that you can use as a template; just add in the specifics of your plan and add it to your website.

Step 2: Configure your returns policy in Returns Manager

Now that you've defined what your returns policy will be, it's important to configure it in a system that will be easy for customers to use. We've all been there; we try to make a return online and need to jump through hurdles, whether it's making a phone call and waiting on hold for hours, or emailing a customer support address and never hearing back. Returns Manager provides an easy-to-use portal that customers can access to submit and manage their returns themselves, making the process as easy as possible.

Set up return groups

The first step is to set up Return Groups; essentially return rules that are applied to groups of products. For some stores, there might be one return group for all products, or several different groups based on the type of product being purchased. A product won't be able to be returned unless it is included in one of your groups.

To do this, head to the Return Groups tab on the navigation bar and create a new group. Make sure to give your new group a name to make it easier to keep track of.

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Next, you'll pick the products that will be included in this group. Remember that this is a group of products to which we'll be applying a return rule, which defines how long customers will have to return those particular products. You can choose just a few specific items, an entire collection, or even your whole store.

After this, choose whether this group of items will have a restocking fee applied. The customer will be notified about this fee, and if their item is refunded the restocking fee will be deducted from the amount they are credited. Restocking fees are commonly used to cover return shipping fees, time needed to add the item back into inventory, and other costs associated with the return.

Different Return Types are Credit, Refund, and Exchange. The customer will have the option of selecting the type of return they're making, and then the reason for submitting that return (such as a damaged product, wrong size selected, etc). You'll be able to choose a a different number of returnable days for each return type (remember that this starts when the item is ordered, not delivered, so be sure to plan accordingly).

Set up return reasons

Return reasons are exactly what they sound like; the options that customers will be able to select as their reason for returning their products.

Return reasons
When creating their return request through the customer portal, they'll need to pick a return reason after they choose the type of request they're making (Credit, Return or Exchange). Depending on how your policy is structured, you can choose to have customers pay for shipping costs or let them know that you'll cover them. You can even require customers to include a picture of their received item (so that you can verify whether the item is eligible to be returned or not). 

You can set up Return Reasons using the option under the Settings menu.

Set up return statuses

Return statuses allow you to customize your returns flow so that customers know exactly how their request is progressing through the system. You can also use these statuses to help keep track of where your inbound shipments are located in your returns flow so you can view everything at a glance.

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Return statuses are set up using the option under the Settings menu inside the app.

Step 3: Add your policy and returns widget to your website

The next step will be to create a Returns page on your website (if you don't already have one) and add it to the navigation of your store. This page will include both your returns policy and instructions to customers on how to return their products. We recommend putting this text at the top of the page to encourage shoppers to read it before they submit their request.

Here's a great example from Twin Six.

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To make a page like this, check out the Getting Started tab in the Help section of the navigation bar. This will guide you through creating a page and pasting in the needed code. After the widget has been embedded in the page, you can add your returns policy and other shipping information directly above the widget by using the rich text editor.

Problem solved!

It's that easy to set up a robust returns process in minutes on your Shopify store. As one of your store's most powerful marketing tools, you can really leverage your returns policy to help customers build trust in your online store. Make sure you grab Bold's Returns Manager app before the end of the month to get it FREE for 60 days.

Aubrey Kotelko

Written by Aubrey Kotelko

Aubrey is a content marketer at Bold Commerce. He drinks a gallon of milk every single day.

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