Tis the Season for Free Shipping and a Great Return Policy

Gerard Tollefsen - December 22, 2009

With holiday shopping (hopefully) in full swing for retailers, I wanted to focus on two factors that can make or break an e-commerce site.  With competition growing every year, the days of fully paid shipping by the customer are going away.  During the holiday season, it is rare that you find e-commerce sites that do not offer free shipping.  At the very least, it is an incentive many websites offer to help you commit to that purchase by a certain date.

Another thing to remember is that your return policy can also influence a visitor’s decision to purchase from your website.  Depending on your product, the return policy can be a major selling feature or a major deterrent in getting visitors to follow through with their purchase.  In addition, the higher ticket items usually are viewed by online shoppers as higher risk purchases.  A clear, concise and fair return policy can go along way in removing any fears about making a large purchase online.  I was recently working with a client who sells furniture online and I asked them what they considered the best selling feature of their signature chair.  Their response was “if we can get someone to sit in the chair, they are sold”.  Well, that is great if they have a physical retail location…but they don’t.  There is no way to get someone to “sit in their chair” before they make the purchase online…so their return policy must be rock solid and their backing of the chair (no pun intended) must be unwavering.

We are in the middle of the busiest buying season of the year for most companies.  Online shoppers are getting assailed every day with “free” offers and incentives.  Be sure you are up to speed with your competition and make it as easy as possible for people to do business with your site.  Giving your customers a great deal is one thing, making them feel confident and comfortable about their purchase will keep them coming back.

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