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Study Shows Return Policy Can Make or Break the Sale




Last week, I accidentally bought two copies of the same book on Amazon.com. It happened because I had pre-ordered the book, forgot, then ordered it when it came out. As soon as I got both books, I logged on to Amazon and followed the, fairly easy, instructions on how to return the book and was told no problem, but I’d have to pay for the return shipping because it was my mistake.

Insert unhappy shopper here.

According to a new study from comScore, the return policy is one of the key components for online shoppers.

63% of those surveyed said they look at the retailer’s return policy before buying. What are they looking for? Hassle-free returns  — something they desperately want, but say they aren’t getting.

But before they can return an item, they have to receive it, and that’s another area of concern.

42% of shoppers said they had abandoned a shopping cart because of delivery times. Most shoppers chose the delivery time that cost the least, but 40% wanted 2-3 day delivery. Nearly half said a package should take no more than 5 days to arrive.

Meeting those deadlines could be tough as the postal service begins to close down hubs all over the country. Of course, that’s good news for UPS and FedEx who will be in position to pick up the overflow.

The shoppers also spoke of their love of tracking but they wished for the ability to reroute packages and schedule delivery-windows.

Online has revolutionized the way we shop. Mom can now outfit the kids for the summer from her iPad while she watches TV after midnight, but she doesn’t want to give up quality or service to do it. The package should ship for a reasonable fee (or free!), arrive in under 5 days in packaging that kept the items from being damaged. She should get what she paid for and if it’s a miss, it should take less than ten minutes to print out a return label and schedule a package pick-up at her home (also, preferably, free of charge.)

It’s not too much to ask for and any retailer who complies should have a loyal customer for life.

As for my Amazon double order, I wrote a complaint email saying that Amazon should have warned me when I bought the same book twice. They agreed and issued a return label so I didn’t have to pay the postage. I had a refund in my account five days later. That’s smart customer service.