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Tips for a Customer-Friendly Return Policy

12/01/2014 11:01AM ● Published by Wendy Turner

Today’s holiday shoppers have dozens, if not hundreds, of options for their gift purchases. Small business owners can compete for their share of consumers’ holiday dollars by offering policies and services that set them apart, such as customer-friendly returns.

Returns are an unfortunate, but inevitable, aspect of holiday shopping. Retailers who work with their customers to create a hassle-free return policy have much to gain – not only gratitude but potentially the long-term loyalty of a repeat customer.

With these tips, you can establish quick, easy and hassle-free methods to get unwanted items handled efficiently, and buy yourself a little more time to enjoy the more pleasant aspects of the holiday season.

Educate customers about your return policies. If you have a storefront, post signage prominently at the register, and include a simple handout in your retail bags at checkout. For online stores, simply include a flier along with the packing slip in each shipment. Be sure to detail the timeframe you will allow for returns and any special requirements, such as original receipts, unopened packaging and other scenarios.

Making modifications such as extending your return window by 15 days or allowing store credit for returns without a receipt, sends a message that you understand returns are frustrating for customers, too, and that you’re willing to work with them for a win-win.

Handle your return transactions by mail. The U.S. Postal Service® offers a number of ways to make shipping a breeze from pickups to deliveries to returns. Using such services gives your customers several convenient options for drop-off or free package pickup, and you can choose from Priority Mail®, First-Class Mail® or ground services depending on your customer’s needs and the appropriate delivery speed for the return.

“During the holidays, the U.S. Postal Service is a resource for many things beyond the mountains of holiday cards we handle each year,” said John Budzynski, U.S. Postal Service consumer advocate and manager of customer relations. “Our job is to make the shipping process easier for our customer – especially when it comes to returns.”

Cost is an unavoidable burden when it comes to returned goods, but shipping through the U.S. Postal Service can also help minimize those expenses with special pricing for high-volume returns and low rates for variable volume services.

Package items for easy returns. For virtual stores and e-purchases, plan ahead and package gift items so they can be returned with minimal hassle. Save yourself and your customers time and money by proactively including a return shipping label. Be sure to place it inside the box in case the exterior box or label is damaged in transit.

Though the holidays bring an upsurge in time- and money-consuming returns, approaching this holiday headache with a customer-first mindset can actually create opportunities to earn business in the long run.

For more holiday return solutions for business owners, visit www.usps.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Sponsored by U.S. Postal Service

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