Once you start dropshipping or selling online products, you will experience firsthand how important is to give your customers the choice to return the item they purchased. These days there isn’t an online store without this option, that’s why customers won’t trust your products if you don’t offer a great return policy.
Even when buying from a traditional store, they have the choice to return it. And it’s only normal, as it may happen the size doesn’t fit them or they just change their mind about the color. The point is a return policy gives customers the security and the freedom they need to make the purchase.
In a poll conducted by All Business, 91% of consumers said that a store’s return policy was important when making a purchasing decision.
We’ve also made the video below, so go check it out to learn how to handle dropshipping returns the right way.
Now, read on to understand why a dropshipping return policy is needed, what it should include, and how you can view the return policy of all AppScenic suppliers if you have an account with us.
Why do you need a return policy for your dropshipping business?
What is a dropshipping return policy exactly? Well, this is an agreement made between you (the online store owner) and your customer. It’s a standard page that needs to be on your online store containing a set of rules that define under what circumstances the returns of your products can happen. In other words, it sets the ground for the “when and how” of your product returns.
A straightforward return policy will let all your customers know what process they need to follow when it comes to refunds and returns. Once you have the right return policy in place you can avoid any discussions between you and your customers if let’s say they don’t like the product anymore. It’s all there in the policy, so if you don’t accept returns because they don’t like the product anymore, then they will have to accept it as was clearly explained in the policy.
So, if you ever thought you don’t need a return policy, think again! It seems at least 30% of products ordered in online stores are returned as compared to the brick-and-mortar stores, where this percentage is just 8.89%.
More than that, 92% of customers in a survey said they would buy again if a store’s return process is easy. And, in another survey, 67% of shoppers say they will check the return policy before making a purchase.
All these statistics say one thing only, you need a return policy when dropshipping if you are serious about your business.
Having a return policy will definitely help increase your conversion rate, avoid unprofessional discussions, and set clear rules for customers to follow in case they want to return an item.
What should be covered in a return policy?
A standard return policy should include the following basic rules:
- What happens if a customer receives a defective or damaged product(s)?
- What happens if a customer wants to return their product(s)?
- What happens if a customer wants to cancel their order?
- What happens if a customer wants to modify their order?
- Can the customer return the product after more than 14 days after receiving it?
- Does the customer need to contact the store owner first before returning the product?
- Who is going to pay for the shipping costs of returning the item?
- Can your customer return the item because he or she decided they want a different size of the same product?
These are some of the questions you need to answer through a well-written return policy. Read on as we will talk more about these points in this next part.
Now, it’s true that as a dropshipper you can have a big problem when it comes to handling returns and refunds. That’s because you don’t manage your own inventory and if your products are shipped from China, for example, and your customers are located in US and UK, then your return policy can be as great as the retailers that dropship from Amazon.
Fortunately, all of these changed in the last couple of years, with the appearance of marketplaces like AppScenic that have products from top suppliers all over the world, some even located in your country. Dropshipping platforms and their suppliers mean you now have the choice to put together a great, hassle-free, customer-centric return policy.
Here’s what we think it’s mandatory to set clear in your return policy.
1. Which are items that can be returned or exchanged
Which items from your store can be returned/exchanged? All or just some?
So, one of the most important facts to add to your return policy is if all products can be returned or if there are some exceptions. This depends on what kind of store you own, but most stores offer the same return policy for their entire product catalogue. Now, if you have a digital items store, then you probably can’t accept returns for all of them. Or maybe during the final sales season you can’t or don’t want to offer exchange options for some products.
If you use a specific marketplace where you can choose from multiple suppliers, like AppScenic is, then you need to check with the supplier that ships your products before making this decision. Check their return policy and then add that info to your own policy.
2. What’s the timeframe for things to be returned or exchanged
What’s the time limit for your customers to return their product since they received it? This is another rule you need to add to your return policy.
Most of the time, stores have a return timeframe of 14, 30 or even 60 days after the product was delivered.
In case you’re using a marketplace like AppScenic, then check with the supplier you use and see what their return policy says about the timeframe. And then you decide if you agree with that or maybe you want to slightly modify it for your store. Of course, this needs to be modified in a way that doesn’t go against the supplier’s one, as they will need to actually return the product.
For example, if the supplier stipulates they have a max of 30 days for a product to be returned, maybe you want to make that period even shorter, and go for a 14 /20 days time limit.
One important fact to keep in mind is that some regions have specific and strict rules regarding a specific minimum amount of days for customers to return their order. And just to give you an example, in Europe, customers have the right to cancel and return their order within 14 days without giving any reasons behind their decision.
3. What are the conditions in which an item can be returned
Are you ok if your customers return an item they already damaged or opened? For example, if you sell clothes, is it ok if they send that item with the tag removed? And what exactly makes an item non-refundable?
Again, you need to decide this after you talk with the supplier that ships your items. Only after you see their return policy, you can decide how to define your own to avoid miscommunication.
Check with your supplier if they accept the following conditions:
- Is it ok if the returned item is slightly worn? Can it be used or not?
- How does the package have to look? Can it be opened, or does it need to be fully sealed?
- Is it ok if some tags are missing?
- Should the customer return the item in the original packaging?
After you get an answer or check their return policy for the answers, then you can choose what does apply to your own customers and add all the rules regarding the conditions of the items in your own policy.
4. How will the refunding process go
This is mainly about how will you pay back the customer. Will you use the payment method and the currency they have used to buy the item? Or maybe you only want to give them a store credit in return, for example, a coupon or a voucher? Or maybe you agree to give your customers items of equal value in return?
Also, one more thing you should specify in your return policy is the time it may take for the funds to get back into your customers’ bank accounts.
For dropshippers, this is a decision that they have to make for themselves only after checking what their suppliers have in their return policy. As we said before, you can copy their actions or decide against them as long as your return policy doesn’t promise something that your supplier is not able to deliver.
5. Who pays for the shipping costs
In your return policy, you also need to specify who pays for the shipping costs in case of a return. Is it you, the online store, or is the customer who has to take that on? So, you have a few options.
Now, this depends on what your supplier agrees to and what you think works better for your customers.
Most suppliers on AppScenic, for example, offer free returns for damaged products, wrong products, wrong quantity products and products looking not as described. But just to be on the safe side, before deciding anything, just check again what is the return policy for the products you imported to your store.
6. What will your customers need to do before returning the item?
This is where you decide what is the first step your customers need to do once they decide they want to return an item ordered from your store. This is highly important as well, and if you don’t make this clear on your store or return policy, then you will get lots of frustrated customers, confused about what they need to do.
Some online store owners have a special form that a customer needs to complete in order for the return to happen. Others just ask their customers to send them an email before actually returning the item.
Again, all these can be decided together with your supplier. See what they agree on and then make this clear in your return policy and on your store too.
Here’s a full guide for dropshippers on refunds and returns.
How can you check a Supplier’s return policy on AppScenic if you are a Store Owner?
Now, as we kept on saying throughout this article, if you decide to use a Marketplace like AppScenic, then you actually need to follow the supplier of your choice conditions as they are the ones who own and ship the products.
So, here’s what you have to do to check out all the information regarding the return policy of all AppScenic suppliers.
First, you need to sign in to your AppScenic Account. If you are not yet on AppScenic, and if you decide to give it a try, then you can register for a free account here.
Now, from your AppScenic Dashboard, click on Product Catalogue. There you can filter through our categories and once you find the product you are interested in, click on it.
A window will open with all the information provided by the supplier who owns that product. Below the main picture, you can see some tabs, one of which is the Return Policy.
Click on it and that’s where you can read all about the Return Policy of that specific supplier.
A clear return policy will give customers the reassurance they need to purchase an item from your store. When you are dropshipping, mostly everything that has to do with returns and refunds comes down to your supplier.
That’s why is hugely important to choose a supplier you can trust to make the return process as smooth as possible. So, before choosing a supplier, even on AppScenic, make sure you are ok with their return policy.
Reliable suppliers should have a clear and easy return process and can reply fast to all your customer questions (about a refund or how to replace an item).
We recommend that you should always keep an eye on the whole retuning process (especially in the beginning) so you can be sure your customers get their money back or get their replacements in a short period of time.
What’s clear is that a great return policy is an advantage for your store in the long term. Customers will always prefer stores that make it easy for them to return an item than when the whole process is just complicated or confusing.