Returns are an unavoidable part of e-commerce. The best you can do is make them as simple as possible for yourself and the customer.
Customers prefer in-store returns
Mailed returns can be taxing. First, a customer will need to read through a lengthy legal document to determine if their particular circumstances qualify for a return in the cases of stores that only accept returns under specific circumstances.
After that, they’ll need to fill out a return form and read instructions on how to make sure a returned product gets back to the seller (mailing and packing information mostly).
Then a customer would need to repack the product for mailing. If it’s a delicate object (a TV, for example), they will need to take extra precautions.
Once packed, the customer will mail the product to the seller and wait a couple of days for it to be delivered. Add a few days for processing on top of that plus another couple of days for the replacement product to be mailed back or a refund to be issued, and the whole process could easily take weeks.
In-store returns are almost effortless by comparison. Provided a customer lives close to your store (a one to two-hour drive), they can just walk in, talk to someone behind a desk and receive either a replacement product or a refund within a couple of minutes. There is no need for special packaging or reliance on the speed of delivery companies.
If a customer’s returned product falls under a set of special circumstances not covered by your returns policy, the issue can be better handled in person than through a computer.
In-store returns also save money that could have otherwise been spent on return shipping by you or the customer.