Elements to Include in Merchandise Return Policy Template

An effective return policy is an integral component of online retail businesses and serves as a great way to communicate your company values and priorities.

An effective return policy should be easy for customers to understand and should not contain confusing language or legalese. Here are some elements you should include in your merchandise return policy: 1. Exclusions.


Based on the products your business sells, your return policy might need to be tailored accordingly. For instance, if your retail store specializes in clothing or other textiles, for instance, all returns must be unworn, unwashed with tags attached and in good condition to protect both inventory integrity and resale value as well as avoid customer confusion with potentially defective goods.

If you sell products requiring special handling or care, it’s essential that they be listed in your merchandise return policy. This ensures customers understand how best to preserve its condition – and could help avoid costly or embarrassing mistakes!

Your customers should understand your return policy, so be sure to include information such as whether receipts are required and how long refunds take to process. This will allow your customers to expect what to expect, while giving you an opportunity to address any concerns or address questions they might have about returning items.

To streamline customer service processes, consider including a link to your return policy in every booking or purchase confirmation email. That way, should a customer have any queries about it they can quickly find the answers themselves without needing to contact you directly. Likewise, add it as a footer link on your website, terms and conditions page or put physical copies by cash registers or near entrance or exit doors for easy reference.

Terms of Sale

Writing an effective return policy means clearly outlining its terms of sale, from which products qualify for returns to whether a receipt is necessary and any other requirements to return an item. By providing more details in your return policy, your customer support team can focus more on other tasks instead of handling customer service inquiries about returns.

Some stores may restrict returns to within a set period after purchase; others may specify that all returned products be unworn, unopened and in their original packaging; yet others may specify only certain product categories such as clothing, electronics or food may be accepted as returns. You should also decide if your returns policy includes either full refunds or store credits.

As part of your return shipping costs policy, it is beneficial to clearly state if any return shipping fees will be covered and whether any additional fees, such as repackaging charges or restocking costs, must be covered by customers.

Your retail return policy is more than just rules for your business: it’s an invaluable customer acquisition, sales conversion and retention tool that can protect it against operational inefficiency and fraud. Take time to create an easy-to-understand return policy so customers can use it, which will set you apart from competitors while meeting customer expectations. Ideally, display it prominently both online and at physical points of sale (POS). Include links for easy customer access as part of each product page to make this possible.

Requirements for Returns

As part of your return policy, consider the conditions under which customers can make returns. This should include specifying when customers can make a claim as well as any preconditions such as receipt or original packaging that must be met in order for returns to be accepted and any fees your store may charge such as restocking or shipping costs.

Though your return policies should reflect your business needs, it’s best to keep them as short and to the point as possible in order to prevent confusing or alienating customers. Furthermore, ensure it follows the brand tone for increased trust and customer loyalty.

Some eCommerce brands are known for having generous return policies, such as Zappos’ 365-day return policy or IKEA’s unlimited furniture returns policy. Though this may result in higher return rates, these generous policies often help build customer loyalty and promote repeat purchases.

To combat return fraud, it’s essential that your customers can easily understand your return policies. This will deter customers from abusing returns to purchase items they wouldn’t usually purchase or use while also safeguarding inventory and sales.

At minimum, it is ideal to display your return policies prominently both online and in your storefront so customers can quickly locate them. In addition, email and social media promotions of your return policies should also help spread awareness. Finally, ensure they appear on all invoices/receipts you send customers; your store’s return policies must apply equally regardless of discount codes/coupons used when selling.


As part of your merchandise return policy, it is essential to consider costs, processes, item value and customer base when creating specifics for it. When gathering ideas and inspiration from other stores’ return policies – for instance Sephora offers an exceptional page outlining holiday returns period details as well as how to initiate online returns and more; similarly Nordstrom has an equally informative policy detailing in-store and curbside drop-off returns as well as refunding online orders.

At the core of any return policy lies clearly outlining which refund types and time frames customers can request them. Some businesses choose a minimum return period of 14 days as this is considered legal in most jurisdictions; others may require customers to present receipts before receiving a refund, or specify store credit as an alternative option.

Make it clear whether customers will be responsible for paying return shipping and/or restocking fees themselves or whether you are willing to shoulder these costs on behalf of customers. Clarity in this area of your merchandise return policy will help prevent any confusion or misunderstanding between customer and company as this could seriously harm business reputation.

As soon as customers visit your website and make purchases, sharing your return policy should be an essential step to help prevent cart abandonment or last-minute hesitation. Your return policy could even be displayed prominently on either the checkout or FAQ pages to make it easy for customers to locate it.


Your return policy must also outline the conditions under which customers can exchange merchandise for something of different size, color or style. Doing this will help avoid miscommunication and return fraud as it provides customers with less opportunity to manipulate store policies in their favor. You could also take this opportunity to set receipt requirements as these can help verify where it came from and help minimize restocking costs.

An important component of your return policy should include deciding if and when you offer free returns. Offering this service will enable you to attract more customers while decreasing costs associated with returning goods; however, be wary that some may perceive it as unfair, leading them to purchase their items elsewhere instead.

Your return policy must be easily accessible on your website so customers know exactly what the policy entails before purchasing, which helps build trust between customer and company. In addition, make sure it appears in other parts of your marketing and merchandising strategies, including in-store displays and fitting rooms.

Ideally, major retail brands such as Sephora or Nordstrom provide excellent examples of return policy templates for retailers. Their policies outline how customers can return products in stores, online, curbside drop-off or mail, with specific details regarding minimum timeframe and restrictions such as condition or original packaging requirements.