Are You Handling Online Returns The Right Way? An Ecommerce Returns Policies Review

published by on 9th February 2016 under Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), Digital Strategy

Ecommerce returns policies infographic blog title


According to a survey from eConsultancy, 27% of customers put off ordering something online in the first place because they do not want the hassle of returning it if it’s not right. Due to various incidences of online fraud, customers are trained to be more careful when it comes to making online purchases. Not only are they incurring additional costs of shipping, they also are not able to interact with the items in person as they would in a physical store.

This underlies the need for helpful, flexible and clear returns policies to showcase good customer service, encourage continued patronage of the products and improve customer retention rates.

Below is an infographic showing the summary of the results of our review of the returns policies of nine online retailers from the fashion, bookseller and consumer electronics industries. In the succeeding section, we’ll take a closer look at each site and see how these online retailers are building confidence and providing good customer service through their returns policies.


Ecommerce returns policies findings infographic


Let’s take a closer look at each…


Fashion Industry

The fashion industry is the biggest ecommerce sector worldwide and is growing rapidly. That goes without saying that fashion ecommerce retailers traditionally deal with a higher volume of returns than other online retailers. Out of the three industries we looked at, the fashion online retailers offered the best arrangements for handling returns. The three sites evaluated made their returns policies easy to see on the pages and easy to understand.


The Iconic 


The Iconic’s return policy is clearly visible to the shopper. Apart from being found in the footer of the site, it’s also located at the top of the site’s page where it states in a link ‘Free Returns for 100 Days’, with more details provided when the user clicks through.

As the link suggests, The Iconic gives customers 100 days from the date of purchase to return the item and best of all, the company pays for the return delivery.

Its returns policy has three simple rules:

  • Item(s) has to be returned within 100 days from the purchase date
  • Item(s) must be unworn and unused with the original tags still attached and seals intact.
  • Item(s) must be in the original packaging which must be in original condition.

To return items, customers have to log in to their Iconic account, choose the order they want to return and select the Return an item to create the prepaid return label. If returning from New Zealand, customers can select the preferred option and schedule a courier pickup or drop the return item off at any NZ Post Shop. If returning from Australia, customers can just drop off the items at any Australia Post Office.

Additionally, The Iconic offers exchanges where they will hold the item for 14 days until they receive the returned item. They also offer customers the option of 110% store credit as a refund rather than cash back. If selected, the customer will receive a voucher code for the total purchase price plus 10%.

(’s return policy can be found in the footer of the site. There is a small text at the very top of the pages indicating that returns are free (although only applicable to UK and Ireland). More information is provided when the user clicks through. only offers refunds on returned items. They will refund customers within 21 days of the day that they email to confirm if customers are entitled for a refund.

A quick rundown of other details in their return policy are as follows:

  • To get a replacement, customers will need to place a new order.
  • Customers must ensure the item is re-packed in the original packaging and delivered securely.
  • A return label is always enclosed in each package found on the delivery note over the customer’s address to make the process of returning items easier for both the customer and
  • Faulty products returned will be refunded in full, including a refund for the delivery charges for sending the item.
  • Customers will receive a confirmation email once has received the returned items, and again when they have processed the refund. offers Free Collect + Returns service where customers can return items at over 5,500 local stores but only offers this service in UK mainland and Northern Ireland.




Similar to the, EziBuy has its returns policy in the footer of the site, where it states ‘ 30 Day Return Policy’. EziBuy customers can return items in original condition within 30 days of receipt and EziBuy will replace the items or refund the purchase price using the original payment method.

A quick rundown of other details in their returns policy are as follows:

  • For returned items, EziBuy will deduct a postage fee of $3.00 from the refund or charge to the next order.
  • Postage charges on returns are not refundable.
  • If customers wish to return items for exchange, EziBuy will not charge for delivery on the replacement item.
  • Customers are highly encouraged to call in to reserve the styles they require.
  • Returned items will be processed within 5-7 working days.
  • Returned items are insured by EziBuy against damage or loss.
  • EziBuy’s returns policy does not apply to personalised products.


Bookseller Industry

The three online bookseller sites we evaluated do the bare minimum when it comes to their returns policy. Providing a good customer experience entails having convenient return policies that answer the customers’ common questions regarding what the process is if they don’t like what they purchased.

Unfortunately for the three bookseller sites we evaluated, the process is far too onerous for customers. One of the sites evaluated buried its return policy deep in its website and loaded it with technical jargon. Their simplistic approach to their returns policy fails to provide the key information that customers look for when wanting to know more about the process for returning items. Additionally, they require customers to send them emails prior to processing their returns which is an added inconvenient step for customers.




Fishpond does not have its return policy clearly visible on the homepage nor in the footer of the site. The customer has to actively search for the policy by going to the site’s Help Centre, then reading through the list of options in the left-hand column of the page to find the returns policy.

Fishpond makes customers go through a few steps before a return is accepted. This method may discourage customers to buy items on a whim. It also makes it quite difficult for customers to return items as they have no choice but to buy something else from online store. Of course, it the product is faulty, the customer will be getting their money back.

Customers can return items within 30 days of the items being shipped. Fishpond refunds the customers if they’ve changed their mind or if the items are faulty. In both circumstances, customers are told to contact customer service through the site’s contact page before returning the item.

Fishpond doesn’t explicitly indicate that it offers exchanges. Additionally, if customers cancel an item from their order, Fishpond will provide a refund less shipping charges and a restocking fee of $5 minimum or 17% of the value paid for the product. According to their return policy, they charge a restocking fee because when customers order an item, then cancel it for no reason, that increases the costs of doing business which could mean increasing prices for everyone.


Paper Plus


Paper Plus’s returns policy is located in the site’s footer and can’t be missed by customers. The return policy is very simply stated. Customers must email the company before returning any item to discuss the reason for the return.

Additionally, for any enquiries as to replacing faulty items or exchanging items in-stores, customers would have to email them to provide a description of the issue. If the product is faulty, the customer doesn’t have to pay a courier fee or postage to return an item.




Whitcoulls’ return policy is located in the site’s footer. They do not refund customers if they change their mind or if they made a mistake when ordering online. Customers can exchange items within 28 days. There is no mention of how long the process takes. If customers don’t wish to exchange, Whitcoulls will then issue a gift card for the value of the item, excluding delivery costs.


Consumer Electronics Industry

Consumer electronics are often subjected to stricter rules than say, clothing. Computers, game consoles, etc. may be subject to limited return rights and other conditions. Let’s take a look at three consumer electronics online retailers and see how they are handling customer returns on online purchases.


Noel Leeming


Noel Leeming’s return policy is located both in the site’s footer and under the homepage carousel. If customers are not happy with their online purchases, they can return the items to any local Noel Leeming store for an exchange or refund within 14 days. If customers opt to send the items via post, they have to shoulder the costs. For in-store purchases, customers have to refer to Noel Leeming’s store return policy.


JB Hi-Fi


Due to the busy layout of the JB Hi-Fi site, it can be difficult to spot their returns policy, which is located on the left hand side of the homepage. When customers click through, they’re taken to a page that links to a document that provides information on returns, repairs and refunds based on the New Zealand Consumer Law. Customers have to read through four sections before finding information about JB Hi-Fi’s returns policy.

Customers have 30 days from receiving their electronic products to return the items if they haven’t been used, opened or if they’re faulty. If the customers are returning CDs, DVDs, games and computer software, they have 90 days from receiving the items, as long as they’re unused and unopened, or if they’re faulty.


Harvey Norman 


Harvey Norman’s returns policy is located in the site’s footer and can’t be missed by customers if they’re actively looking for it. They offer a ‘No questions asked 14-day exchange policy’ wherein customers can simply take the good back in to any local store.

Harvey Norman covers the shipping costs for returning items, where Harvey Norman considers the items to have breached a consumer guarantee. Additionally, refunds are issued at the discretion of Harvey Norman and is normally processed within 7 days.



Returns will always be a part of every online retailer’s ecommerce business. Your returns policy can have either a positive or negative impact on your customer retention rate. How you handle the whole customer return process and the easier you make it for your customers, the better your retention rates. Some best practices for you to start with, include:

  • Have a returns policy that is easy to find on your site
  • Make your returns policy easy to understand by your customers
  • Make the process easy by offering multichannel returns
  • Have a flexible returns policy and don’t annoy your customers with too many steps or conditions

In addition to having a solid and clear returns policy, ways to prevent returns should also be considered. Detailed product descriptions, videos and images of the product from various angles are good starting points. Having customer reviews for the products can help reduce returns by helping customers find the products that are best suited for their intended uses. Lastly, asking feedback from your customers with regard to the returns process or the actual returned items can help you uncover issues and properly address them.


Jump Start Your Career Progression At FIRST

published by on 29th January 2016 under General

Where are they now blog title

Career progression means different things to different people. It’s all about taking that right first step. Here at FIRST, there is no single, prescribed way of expanding one’s professional experience or acquiring new skills. With our collaborative and supportive culture, we put each member of our team in charge of his or her career. Through flexibility, opportunities to up skill and resources for career progression and personal development, we train smart and highly-motivated people well – many leave FIRST and do great things, many stay with FIRST and continue to make a difference to our clients daily.

Searching through my LinkedIn connections with former FIRST team members, I found that the top 3 current positions held are: Digital Performance or Strategist (38%), Director (16%) or Entrepreneur/ Founder (11%). Others also successfully moved to the following positions: CEO/Head, Account/Project/Marketing Manager, Business Development/ Innovation and Web Design and Development.

In terms of geographic distribution, most (71%) stayed and continued their career in various regions of New Zealand. The rest moved to UK (11%) and Australia (9%). Other countries included U.S., Switzerland, Czech Republic and Malaysia.

Majority of former FIRST team members moved to other Digital Marketing agencies (38%). Technology (16%) and Retail (11%) were the next top industries that some of them ventured into. Others included Travel, Finance, Telecommunications, Education, Charity, Sports and Fitness and Government Administration.

Below is an infographic that shows a snapshot of the findings.


Career Progression at FIRST Digital


With technology always evolving, Digital Marketing is definitely a career that has growth potential. Digital Marketers are often at the cutting edge of the latest trends and constantly learning and adapting to new strategies. And with our focus on the development of expertise at FIRST, there are lots of opportunities for everyone in the team to develop rapidly.

Want to be part of our fantastic team at FIRST?

Give me a call at 021 191 2244 or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Grant Osborne
General Manager

Online Travel Booking Industry Report – CRO 2015

published by on 23rd December 2015 under Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), Industry Reports

Travel booking CRO industry report blog title


According to an article from Contently, when it comes to website visits and the ‘look-to-book’ ratio, the travel industry’s average conversion rate is at about 0.3%. This is compared to an average 3% conversion rate for ecommerce and retail websites reported in 2013.

This means that most people who land on travel booking websites, search for flights and possibly accommodation and then leave without completing the purchase process. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can always improve your conversion rate by optimising your pages so that more visitors turn into customers.

In order to help you optimise your website pages, particularly, the main entry points of your visitors -your homepage and category page, we’ve created the sixth conversion rate optimisation (CRO) industry report on the online travel booking industry. This report covers best practices for conversion elements on the homepage and category page as well as examples of online travel booking websites using these best practices. The aim is to provide you with a framework to help you invest your time and resources as effectively as possible by assessing which conversion elements are most likely to yield results.


  • Currently, Cheap Flights takes the lead in having most of the online conversion elements in its homepage. In the category page, Webjet holds the first place. House of Travel and Flight Centre are both consistently found in the top 3 places in the CXS rankings for both the homepage and category page.
  • Most sites have the elements under the Features and Booking Assist groups present for the homepage and the Design and Navigation groups for the category page. However, they lack the elements under the Credibility group for both pages.
  • Majority of the analysed online travel booking websites have CXS scores of below 75%.


travel homepage element score rankings

travel category page element score rankings






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The Digital Marketing Training your university doesn’t teach you

published by on 9th December 2015 under Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), Digital Strategy, Digital Trends, etc

digital marketing training blog title


Here’s a blog post especially for you graduates who are looking to start a career in Digital Marketing and desire to set yourself apart in a competitive employment market where employers are looking for real skills and some experience.

For our agency FIRST, the most valuable people are those who are ‘T-Shaped’. These people can think strategically and have a wide range of digital skills and expertise, but in addition have a passion for and deep specialist expertise in a particular digital discipline.

If you are serious about getting your first (or second) digital role – here is some further digital marketing training to undertake and blogs that will help you keep up to date with the latest. (Note: I use as my preferred feed reader)

At FIRST, everything we do is focused on helping business increase online sales and revenue by improving the customer experience through data & analytics. While there are many resources around, these are the ones we find valuable and I am sure most employers would also. I can guarantee that your job prospects will be so much better for investing the time in learning and understanding the below than had you not.

I recommend training in 4 core disciplines:

  1. Strategic Digital Thinking
  2. Analytics
  3. Conversion, A/B Testing and Online Customer Experience
  4. Performance Advertising (Google AdWords / Facebook Advertising)


Strategic Digital Thinking

Recommended sites to follow:



Recommended Analytics Training:

Google Analytics Individual Certification & Training

Recommended sites to follow:

Recommended practical work:

For your own site, a friends site, or a small business:

  • Set up Google Analytics, including goals, events and/or eCommerce tracking.
  • On a regular basis review the data, find and share insights with the site owner to increase website performance.


Conversion, A/B Testing and Online Customer Experience

Recommended Conversion Training:

Optimizely Platform Certification

Recommended sites to follow:

Recommended practical work:

For your own site, a friend’s site, or a small business:

  • set up and run some tests (free for up to 50,000 unique sessions per month)
  • set up to get heatmaps, clickmaps and video recordings of user behaviour (free for up to 100 recorded sessions)  or use for $9USD per month


Performance Advertising (Google AdWords / Facebook Advertising)

Recommended Performance Advertising Training:

Google Adwords Certifications

Facebook Training:

Recommended practical work:

For your own site, a friends site, or a small business:

  • Setup and run an Adwords account ($500+ budget)
  • Setup and Run Facebook advertising ($500+ budget)


Search Engine Optimisation

Recommended SEO reading:

Google’s webmaster Guidelines:

Google’s SEO starter guide’s Search Ranking Factors


Final thoughts

By doing these things, you will involve yourself in the digital marketing community and keep up to date with the latest concepts and trends in digital marketing. You’ll get the needed training with practical applications and some hands on ‘work experience’ that will be very valuable.

Even more than that, it shows to a future employer that you are a self starter, can work autonomously, have a passion for the industry, a thirst for learning and you will do what it takes in a role. All of these attitudes are perhaps even more important that the skills themselves.

I am happy to help in any way we can.  If you have found other resources very valuable for training, please let us know via so we can post them for others.



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House of Travel Reaps Rewards of A/B Testing

published by on 8th December 2015 under Case Studies, Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

HOT CRO case study


House of Travel benefits from cumulative impact of customer led A/B testing program

House of Travel has been helping Kiwis see the world for almost 30 years and is one of New Zealand’s most successful providers of travel experiences. House of Travel is also a leader in travel technology, offering an award winning website allowing users to compare and book airline flights and holidays in an instant and now offers the HOT travel app which gives you access to all your travel requirements, wherever and whenever you need.

With the primary objectives of improving user experience, identifying and eliminating friction points and increasing revenue, House of Travel partnered with FIRST to initiate a program of work, looking:

  • to encourage more site visitors to book with House of Travel over competing brands and;
  • to minimise any unnecessary drop off points

FIRST conducted a series of quantitative and qualitative research to understand how actual users interact with the website and to uncover opportunities for potential improvement and A/B testing candidates. The extensive research included User testing, Crazy Egg (heat mapping and form analytics), Qualaroo (customer surveys), surveying the House of Travel call centre and more.

FIRST launched the testing program and created and ran tests through Optimizely (A/B testing technology). The repetitive cycle of ‘review results’ and ‘implement actionable insights’ > ‘refine tests’ > ‘conducting further tests’ is well underway and early results have been promising.

Some of the results across a variety of ‘tests’ include:


Download the case study here

HOT CRO case study results

Here’s what our client had to say about the partnership…


HOT CRO case study testimonial


Download the case study here


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