Thursday, June 04, 2009

Returns, Returns, Returns...

Word of Mouth MarketingImage by mringlein via Flickr

On several occasions I have mentioned how important it is to have a good return policy. Too many small retailers fear the thought of returns and institute somewhat draconian measures to deal with that fear. While this may result in fewer returns it also results in fewer sales because the competitors have better return policies.

Many times a small retailer will only offer in store credit on returns and some even add a restocking fee on some transactions. This type of policy will only send customers to competitors because the big box stores and many on line retailers will give refunds on purchases.

Now lets take a look at an extreme example. Say a customer purchases $150,000 in product, and the needs to return $20,000 of that product. While this kind of return would seem to be devastating in its amount, it is close to the 10% mark that I suggest you keep out of your sales to compensate for possible returns.

While the return amount may be hard on you to deal with, your customer invested a great deal of money with you and it is important that you take care of them. If you are hard nosed about the return, how do you think that person will react and tell their friends? On the other had if you take care of the customer how will the customer react and what will be the information conveyed to the friends?

Remember, word of mouth advertising is one of your most important marketing tools at your disposal. Word of mouth can make or break a small business so it is important to keep it positive. While it is impossible to please everyone, making your return policies reasonable will go a long way to keep your customers coming back to you instead of going somewhere else.

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