Return Policy Transparency is the Future of eCommerce

August 3, 2022
| by Rebecca Fox

Letting customers know in advance how long they have to return an item is becoming a new standard, whether that means clearly displaying your return policy on your website or providing a user-friendly return portal.

We’re now seeing return policy transparency going even further by giving customers a preview of your store’s return policy before even visiting the website.

Search Engine Land shares about Google’s new feature in product search results, which displays products’ return windows directly in the search result snippet.

Under the main search result snippet, Google now displays a short section with the number of days you have to return a product, e.g. “30-day returns”, “90-day returns”, etc.

Why is Displaying Your Return Window Important?

This new Google feature that highlights the return window reflects the growing importance of returns and of clearly displaying your return policy on your eCommerce store.

It’s important to let your customers know how long they have to return an order. The easier it is to find your return policy, the better. This new Google feature helps to put your return policy front and center.

When defining your return window in your return policy, there are a few things to consider:

An extended return window reassures customers that they have plenty of time to decide if they want to keep their order or return items that aren’t quite right for them.

On the other hand, it’s always important to find a balance. For example, L.L.Bean offers a whole year for customers to return items. Until 2018 they offered lifetime returns. Having some kind of time limit is important, even if it is a wide one.

Although 63% of customers expect a 30-day return window, each eCommerce store has its own considerations, and there is no one correct way to go about it. 

Ask yourself – which product would you click on, when shown the return window in the search results?

There are online stores with return windows ranging from 7 days to 365 days, and it’s up to you to decide what works best for your store, depending on your products and customer base. 

Once you decide on your return window, make sure to clearly display it on your site, on your checkout page, and in emails to customers. With Google’s new feature, your return information will be more easily accessible to your customers.

How Does Google’s New Feature Work?

Google has not yet officially commented on this new feature, so it is still unclear exactly how to define the return window that appears in search results.

The return window information may be pulled from the data from the Google Merchant Center as part of the Google Shopping experience card

Google may also be pulling this information from the website page’s structured data or from the page text itself. 

A Google representative told Search Engine Land

“This is an experiment that surfaces shipping and returns information on search results, bringing in signals from a variety of sources from across the web and platforms like the Merchant Center. We’re always testing new ways to improve the shopping experience for our users but don’t have anything specific to announce right now.”

The Importance of Returns

Google’s new search feature helps put returns in the front of customers’ minds before placing an order. 

Returns are the future of eCommerce, and when customers know what to expect from the return process, they will be more confident to purchase from you.

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