A customer packing a box of athletic shoes into a shipping box

How returns can boost online sales and customer loyalty

How returns can boost online sales and customer loyalty
FedEx driver with hand truck of packages talking to a small business owner
FedEx driver with hand truck of packages talking to a small business owner

Returns are part of selling online. And they have an undeniable impact on your business. With these insights and tips, you can create a returns experience that transforms one-time shoppers into long-term customers.

Returns boost conversions.

Customers care about how easy it is to return your products, and it influences their decision making.

89% icon
89% icon

of consumers read the return policy before buying.1

55% icon
55% icon

of customers decided not to purchase an item because of an inflexible policy.1

A person looking at a retail website on a laptop

What can you do?

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magnifying glass icon

Make your return policy easy to find.

Transparency breeds trust, so make your return policy prominent. Consider putting it in a banner so customers see it immediately. And make sure your site search returns your policy in the results when customers search for it. It’s also a good idea to include your policy in your order confirmation emails and send a printed copy with every order you ship.

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document icon

Make it easy to read and understand.

Use straightforward language and be clear about the rules and the process. How much time do they have? How quickly can they expect their refund? Including all the relevant details can give customers confidence to buy.2

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checkmark icon

Give them options.

Add flexibility to your policy any way you can. Start by letting them choose a refund, a store credit, or an exchange. Having the option makes customers feel better about choosing store credit, which prompts future purchases and can even improve your Net Promoter Score.3

Returns strengthen customer loyalty.

The returns experience doesn’t just influence the initial purchase decision—it encourages repeat buying when it’s done right.

95% icon
95% icon

of online shoppers said they would buy from a retailer again if they had a positive returns experience.4

A smiling female customer dropping off a package into FedEx Dropbox station

What can you do?

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gear icon

Make the process painless.

Allow customers to initiate the return from their original confirmation email or from your website. Make it easy for them to print a return label, or consider including one with the original shipment. And when you send the original shipment, send printed instructions on what they need to include with their return, and use packaging that they can easily re-use.

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dropbox icon

Provide dropoff options.

Give them the flexibility to return items however it’s easiest for them, whether it’s at a shipment dropoff location or through a package pickup at their home or business.

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person icon

Keep customers informed.

Reduce their anxiety—and status inquiries—by sending automated email updates at critical points in the return process. Include confirmations when the package is in transit, when it’s received for processing, and when their refund has been issued.

Free returns are the new normal.

Customers have come to expect free returns. If they see you’re offering them, customers are more likely to buy.

69% icon
69% icon

of customers might not buy if they have to pay for a return.1

34% icon
34% icon

of the top 1,000 online retailers offer free return shipping, despite the weight customers place on it.4

A mother and daughter packing a box for return

What can you do?

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returns icon

Offer free returns—but do it on your own terms.

Consider customizing your return policy based on factors like the product type, price point, season, return reason, or customer value. This can protect you against fraud and revenue loss while still giving customers the confidence to buy.3,5

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USD currency icon

Reduce the cost of offering free returns by decreasing the need for them.

When you get a request for a return, email the customer for more information about the reason for their return. This gives you visibility into your return trends, and the email serves as an additional touchpoint that personalizes their experience.

Then, use those insights to adjust the shopping experience and product offerings. For example, if customers are returning for sizing reasons, reevaluate your sizing or add a fitting chart to your site. If it’s quality, look at your material suppliers and manufacturing processes. If it’s color, consider better product photography.

You might also consider enabling ratings and reviews for your products. This encourages customers to interact with your brand and gives potential customers more information about which products will work best for them.

1Finding the ROI in online returns. Digital Commerce 360, 2019.
2https://blog.3dcart.com/blog/how-to-write-an-awesome-return-policy-for-your-ecommerce-store
3www.returnmagic.com/return-strategies
4Putting the Customer at the Center of the Returns Experience. Daniela Forte, Multichannel Merchant.
5https://www.returnlogic.com/blog/should-you-offer-free-return-shipping