The Return Policy is one of the most important policies a merchant can construct. It will vary from business to business and may also depend upon industry and what your competitors are doing. Some merchants like to say all shipments are final- period. Others will allow for exchanges and store credits, while others might offer a complete money back guarantee. Whichever category your business falls into, the return policy should mention a time component. For example, if someone attempts to return a product that they purchased 6 months ago, you may be less willing to take the product back then if they bought it 1 week ago. You should also establish shipping costs and how they pertain to returns. Is it the customer’s responsibility to pay for shipping if they return something or is your company willing to eat that cost? Also, what condition must the product be in to be returned? Having a clearly defined shipping policy is extremely important and unfortunately something that every online merchant will fall back on at some point in time.
A good shipping policy should set expectations for the customer. The most commonly looked for element in a shipping policy is the time element – how long will it take to get the package(s). Although you can’t control the shipping carrier’s time in transit, you can give the customer a good idea of how long it will take you to get a package in the hands of a carrier. Also, if there are days that you don’t ship, specify them. Many companies that sell wine or perishables won’t ship on Thursday and Friday because they don’t want the packages sitting in the carrier’s truck over the weekend. Merchants should also mention whether or not they’ll ship to PO Boxes.
The final policy that every merchant should have is a security policy. This will likely be an internal only policy, but should set guidelines for employees that have access to the Order Management System. Among other things, there should be policies in place for:
1. Discontinuing access to the Order Management System once an employee is terminated.
2. Defining Access Levels to the Order Management System.
3. Rules for handling files that are exported from the Order Management System.
4. Criteria for establishing unique logins and passwords to the Order Management System.
5. Guidelines for using antivirus software. It’s extremely important that merchants never login to an Order Management System if their computer has a key-logging program running.
6. Rules for accessing the Order Management System from other computers.
7. Timelines for periodically changing passwords.
Although the thought of writing policies makes most people yawn, take a couple hours and review the policies that your company has in place. Are there things that should be changed or added? If you haven’t reviewed them in a while, chances are that it’s time to revisit them.