While brick-and-mortar purchases still make up a majority of consumer spending, online shopping is steadily on the rise. With that, returns have become an inherent part of the online shopping process. So much so, that in a 2018 consumer report conducted by Narvar, 96% of customers responded that they would shop with a retailer again if the return process is easy.
Which brings us to the topic of store policies—a set of store rules that explain to customers what they can expect when making a purchase from an online store, and the steps to follow if a problem arises.
In this blog post, we’ll explain why store policies are just as important for your business as the products you sell. And since you’re (hopefully) using Printful for your POD needs, we’ll talk you through all the policies we have! We’ll also share step-by-step guides on how to deal with issues your customers may have with shipping, returns, and damaged goods.
Why are store policies important?
Solid and easily accessible store policies create a sense of security for customers when they’re buying something from you, especially since they can’t try on the product beforehand. They’ll know what to expect if something goes wrong with their order, or if the product doesn’t fit properly. Store policies will also help you sort through problems more quickly. So it’s a win-win situation!
As a store owner, it’s up to you which policies to offer to your customers. But if you do use Printful for fulfillment and POD, we recommend basing your policies off our own. That way you can solve problems smoothly. Of course, you can customize these policies to fit your store’s tone of voice, and be stricter or more liberal with refunds and returns!
Printful return policies include items returned by the carrier/customer and damaged items. We’ll also walk you through the steps in case your order was lost in transit!
There are two different types of returns. Either the shipping carrier will return an order, or the customer will.
Returned by the shipping carrier
If the carrier isn’t able to deliver the items because of the wrong address, or if the package was unclaimed by your customer, it has to be returned to the default return address. For Printful orders, this means that they’ll be sent back to the facility that sent them out (Printful’s address is what we set as default for returns). If you’d rather handle returns yourself, go to Settings > Returns and hit Change address. Just note that this setting excludes all DHL shipments—all orders sent through DHL get returned to our facilities.
How do I prevent returns by shipping carrier?
In most cases, orders are sent back because customers provide an address that’s incorrect, incomplete, or illegible. To minimize this, remind your customers to be careful and double-check the digits when adding their shipping address. You can include a pro tip in your store policies to use simple tools like the USPS ZIP code lookup to make sure that the city in the address matches their zip code.
What do I do if an order was returned by shipping carrier?
If you get an email from us that your order arrived back at our facility, don’t panic: we’ll place it in temporary returns for 28 days, at no cost. During this time, contact your customer and find out what happened and how they’d like to proceed. If they want their order reshipped to a new address, let us know and we’ll do just that! But keep in mind that you’ll be liable for reshipment costs.
Returned by the customer
Your order can also be returned to us by your customer. This usually happens when a customer orders the wrong size or doesn’t want the items anymore.
Printful doesn’t offer refunds or returns for buyer’s remorse or wrong sizes. But if you want to offer size exchanges and refunds to your customers, great! Just keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for the costs.
How do I avoid problems with sizing?
Each of our items listed in the products and pricing page has a size guide. So when you push products to your store through Printful, make sure the Attach size guide to the product description function is enabled. That way products on your store will have their own size guides as well!
Also, pay attention to your product descriptions, as it sets expectations and help you customers understand what they’re buying. The more detailed information (and photos!) you give about the product, its quality, and the fit, the less unsatisfied shoppers you’ll have!
At Printful, we pride ourselves on unparalleled product quality. That’s why all our orders go through a 3-step quality check before we ship them out. However, if a damaged item was accidentally let through our quality control, or was damaged during shipment, we take full responsibility and provide a free replacement (except for cases where a print comes out imperfect because of a low-quality print file).
What do I do if an item arrived damaged?
Here’s what we recommend you to do when communicating with customers about a damaged item:
- Request photos of the product and the packing slip (this is standard practice for ecommerce businesses).
- Once you have the photos, file a problem report in your Printful dashboard. The report should be filed no later than 4 weeks after the product has been received by your customer. We recommend always adding this to your store policies!
Watch this tutorial on how to file a problem report through Printful:
What to do in case an order was lost in transit
Now that we’ve covered Printful’s return policies, let’s talk about lost orders. If it’s past the estimated delivery date and your customer still hasn’t received their order, the package might be lost in transit.
If the order was shipped without tracking, here’s what you do:
- Double-check with your customer that they provided the correct shipping address.
- Ask them to get in touch with local post office and their neighbors to try locating the lost order.
- If the shipping address is correct, and the order still doesn’t arrive, submit a problem report and our customer support will find a resolution for you!
If the shipping method for that order had tracking, look at the tracking log (find the tracking link in your dashboard, or in one of our order notification emails). If you see limited or no entries to the tracking log, most likely the package was lost in transit.
This is what you do next:
- Confirm with your customer that the shipping address they provided was correct.
- Ask the customer to get in touch with their local post office to try locating the lost order.
- Once you confirm that the shipping address was correct, and the post office can’t locate the package, submit a problem report. Remember, all claims must be submitted to us no later than 4 weeks after the estimated delivery date!
- Once our customer support team receives your report and confirms all the details, we’ll cover the costs of reprinting and shipping a replacement order for you.
Keep in mind that we can’t cover the costs of reshipping the order if tracking information states an order was delivered but your customer thinks they haven’t received it. You can offer your customer to reship their order, but you’ll have to cover the costs.
What to do if tracking information shows an order was delivered, but the customer says they haven’t received it
If your customer provided correct address, and their package can’t be found at the post office or at their neighbours’, they may be victims of package thieves (also known as porch pirates). As online shopping becomes more popular, so does the doorstep package theft. According to a survey conducted by Comcast, a shocking 1 in 4 Americans reported a stolen package.
Keep in mind that we won’t cover the costs of reshipping the order if tracking information states an order was delivered. You can offer your customer to reship their order, but you’ll have to cover the costs.
Clear and concise policies are essential for your store
Explain to your customers what they can expect from your business—it’ll only make them feel more comfortable when making a purchase. And if a problem does arise with their order and the resolution is quick and painless, it’ll encourage their loyalty!
Store policies are designed to protect you, the seller, and your customers, but they don’t have to be long or complicated. We prepared a clear and concise website copy that covers returns, shipping, and damage policies. You can use it as a template and edit it to suit your own store’s voice and policies you want to implement, or you can just add it as is. Do yourself and your customers a favor, get your store policy text below!