How to create an eCommerce returns policy: Tips and checklist

Discover how to create an returns policy for your eCommerce business to help you deliver a great online shopping experience for new and returning customers.
· 09 July 2024 · 4 minute read

A key part of eCommerce customer experience

Returns are crucial to the success of eCommerce businesses. The ability to return an item that doesn’t match expectations helps give customers confidence and peace of mind when shopping with you online.

The Telstra Tech State of Play research, found that 89% of consumers think a clear returns or cancellations policy is important when buying from a small business online. In fact, they considered it more important than things like free shipping, short delivery times and order status updates.

To help improve the online shopping experiences you offer customers, it’s important to create a clear returns policy and communicate it well. Not only does a strong returns policy help build trust in your brand, but it can also help to protect your business from a legal perspective.

Keep reading to learn how to write a simple returns policy for your online business.


What should you include in your returns policy?

If you’re involved in the eCommerce business, your customers will want to know how your web store handles return or exchange requests as well as processing refunds. So, what should you include in your returns policy?

Checklist of questions

Below are key questions to consider that can help you create a good eCommerce returns policy.

  • How many days do I have to return an item or seek a refund?
  • How do I return my goods and start a refund or exchange process?
  • Can I use my own packaging?
  • Do I need to include the order or return slip?
  • Is there a cost to process my return?
  • How long will it take for my refund to be processed?
  • How will the refund be processed?
  • Are there any restrictions on returns and refunds?
  • Do you offer alternative types of refunds, like store credit?


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is also a useful resource for what’s considered fair grounds for returns or refunds. Outlining these terms clearly on your website will help your customers understand the conditions of shopping with your business online.

To assist your online customers further, make sure your returns policy is easy to find on your website. Consider covering it in useful frequently asked question (FAQs) pages on your website. You can also reference it again in your online checkout to help manage customer expectations before they click buy.


What are the benefits of a clear returns policy?

A clear, easy-to-find returns policy can bring a host of benefits for online businesses.

A returns policy may save you time

A direct returns strategy can help save you time fielding customer questions. Should there be issues down the line, it can also help you to navigate any customer confusion and offer legal protection.

A returns policy can help to build customer loyalty

Providing your customers with a clear returns policy and post-purchase support may help to bolster their trust and satisfaction with your brand. Meeting your customers’ needs and expectations once they’ve purchased your product is also a great way to promote positive reviews online across social media.

Your returns policy may support your bottom line

A well-written returns policy can be a drawcard for new customers. Customers want to reduce the risk of buying from new places online. A seamless return process is one way you can give customers confidence to buy from you.


Understand the cost of returns

Returns are important for consumers, but they do have a cost for businesses. Data from Australia Post shows 26% of shoppers made a return in the past 12 months. This offers a glimpse into the scale of returns and potential costs. In 2023, several large retail brands bucked the trend by introducing return fees to mitigate rising return costs.

Understanding the potential cost of returns can help you shape a policy that suits both you and your customers.

Your returns policy checklist

  • Visit the ACCC website to learn about consumer rights and guarantees.
  • Refer to online guides such as ‘Managing refunds and replacements’ by Small Business Development Corporation
  • Read the returns policies for small businesses like yours – you may be able to pick up a few tips.
  • Consider seeking legal advice to ensure that your policy covers you legally.

Ready to write or update your returns policy for your online business? If you’re not sure where to start, you can find return policy templates online. These can give you a starting point of things to consider. A legal professional can help you put together a clear policy that’s right for your eCommerce business.

When your returns policy is ready, publish it in a place where it will be easy to find. Keeping consumers informed in this way will help your business to deliver great eCommerce customer experiences for those who choose you for their online shopping needs.


Think about your customer’s experience end-to-end

A clear returns policy is just one part of the delivery experience you offer your customers. To help you design a great experience, read about shipping cost methods and how you can leverage FAQ pages on your website to help boost overall customer experience for your eCommerce business.

To learn more about tech trends shaping customer behaviour, download our Evolve with your customers report.


Originally published June 2022, updated July 2024.

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