Changing Your Online Return & Exchange Policies

With the internet becoming a staple for billions of people, there is a need for efficient and seamless customer service. Returns and exchanges is definitely a selling point for many sales. How often have you decided on an item because the company had a great return and exchange policy? For me I don’t purchase used electronics unless the seller or company has a return and exchange policy. I’m sure most people won’t either.

This comes to mind the customer service on eBay. There is always the topic how eBay is all for the customer and not for the seller. In my experience, that is probably true. Receiving a message from the resolution center is never a great way to start a seller’s day. Sometimes if the item is low price it’s not a big deal for the seller to just refund. When it involves a large amount of money it starts to become a resolution that can take weeks to resolve and in the end if the buyer takes the claim further, sometimes eBay just refunds the buyer. Awful I know. If eBay does not refund, the customer can call their credit card and claim the item is not as described. Knowing this has probably angered many sellers and causes them to not invest their small business with them.

You know it does not have to be this way. I feel eBay is a decent selling platform to try a small business. I think it just involves informing the seller on how to handle customer service online. Think about it. Handling customers face to face is easier because you can get a better feel on how to handle them due to their actions, and emotions. Handling customers online lacks that. This is why the efficient and seamless return exchange policy is always a virtue for MANY online businesses.

I’ve had an eBay store for a few years now. I’ve handled many returns due to many reasons. Item does not fit, item broke, does not match pictures in exact color, etc. It becomes ridiculous and sometimes I feel the customer is out to get me. Then I changed my attitude. I’ve heard from many successful sellers that to truly thrive as a small online business owner you need to have a great return/exchange policy (meaning it should match eBay’s own). So I really thought about it and for the past few months my return/exchange policy was modeled after many top rated sellers. Eventually I became one. Actually I became one last week. It took me a while to get use to it but I saw a huge benefit in redoing my return/exchange policies.

  1. I’m less worried about receiving an item not as described claim or any claim. Why? Because customers will just follow my policy and send things back instead of going through the resolution center.
  2. I’m less likely to think the customer is out to get me. I accepted the fact that sometimes the item is not what the customer expected. It’s probably not my fault or their fault. Having it returned may be a lost to me but a bookmark for my store for future shopping due to my “pleasant transaction”.
  3. Return/Exchange policy coupled with my status as a top seller will encourage customers to shop with you and not with competitors without it. My niche is mostly clothing and household items. Do you know how the eBay market is flooded with stores and sellers who sell those items? So much that it feels like finding your store is like a “needle in a haystack”.

I’m sure many former sellers will feel that I’m just an eBay groupie. If being an eBay groupie involves getting more sales then yes I probably am one. I have handled both great and rude customers but in the end if they are happy with how I dealt with them, my feedback from them  probably not going to be a negative. Here are a few tips to handle a return/exchange online.

  1. If you receive an angry message from them, it’s best to apologize and offer either the amount to get the item fixed or dry –cleaned. Sometimes if you feel it’s not worth the time and money to list and ship again it’s best to refund the full amount. I always reply with my refund please donate or give to a friend who might like it instead.
  2. Once you receive the item back it’s always best to message them back politely and the refund the invoice as well. You would be surprise how the extra kindness can change their mood because they are not talking to some automated service.
  3. If a customer is being rude from the get-go, it’s best not to point it out. This can spur on an unhappy customer until the end with a negative feedback. They might even do the dreaded escalated claim.

Having a small online business like mine is a one-woman (or man) show. Why cause yourself more work and headache with a crappy return/exchange policy if you’re selling online? If you do not have the confidence to try it you might never grow into the business you want to be. I’m enjoying growing my business with these policies because if customers have confidence to shop with me then it’s a sign I can thrive.


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