Creating Customer Friendly Store Policies
Have you ever shopped at a store and resisted a purchase due to a store policy? This is a common scenario, and particularly one that hits home with independent merchants. In a world where big box stores brag about “no return policies” or “30 days for full refund” or even longer, it’s tough for indies to keep up. So what’s a small retailer to do in a big, big world of stores to compete with?
For starters… don’t ignore the fact that just because you can’t compete directly with store policies offered by big box stores, you should not have any at all. Instead, identify what makes sense for your unique business and promote your policies with confidence. Some key areas to identify include:
3. Store Theft
4. Product Maintenance / Service Updates (as needed)
5. Warranties (as needed)
7. Product Recalls (as needed)
8. Currency for Store Purchases
9. Shipping Costs / Limitations
When writing any policy, you want to consider the following:
- Post policies on receipts, as well as on or near your cash wrap.
- Require a receipt for all returns, as well as have customers initial receipts once a purchase has been made that confirms they understand your store policies (be sure to train your team to state them as well as have them written out on the receipt).
- Identify that any refunds provided to the customer will only be offered in the same form of currency used for the purchase. For example, if the item was purchased with a credit card, then you should issue a credit to that same card.
- If you do not accept all forms of payment, such as checks or American Express, make sure you identify this clearly by your cash wrap and on your door window or near your store entrance.
- Identify when store credits will be issues vs. a full refund, such as if a certain time-frame passes.
- Have clear, easy to track store credit certificates available to issue to customers that your store can internally manage between all employees, as well.
- Be clear on your store signage , receipts and all other communication regarding the limit to when returns or exchanges are welcomed. 30 days is a fair time, though 14 is often more ideal for indie store owners. Some even limit their returns to 7 days. Do what is best for you, but always keep your customer’s best interest in mind.
- If possible, consider offering gift receipts to customers. This is easier for all involved when purchases are intended to be given as a gift.
- Consider any limitations to which products cannot be exchanged or returned, included if they were opened, defective or anything else. Also consider your local and state laws for this based on the unique product.
- Be consistent in enforcing all store policies. All employees should adhere to the same rules and resist breaking them to accommodate select customers.
- Request customer ID for all returns, exchanges, shipping and VIP policies.
- Track all purchases, returns, exchanges and other store activities – keeping an eye for excessive returns or fraudulent returns.
- List product warranties / expiration dates / product recalls in store, as well as train employees to communicate these to customers when purchases are made or as customer’s visit stores (and as needed).
Remember that store policies are meant to support and help your customers by better servicing them and eliminating confusion or difficult scenarios. Keep all policies well visible to customers, as well as clearly defined, and you should be on your way to supporting customers well beyond our big box friends.
Photo Credit: Searching4Savings.com