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  1. #1
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    Smile Return Policies
    Hello everyone.
    I am looking for information on returns policies for affiliate programs. I can't seem to find a thread to answer my questions as I'm still trying to find my way around the forums. I figured this would be a good place to ask if anyone knows of a thread where I can read up on returns policies within the retail sector? My experience of affiliate marketing is in the gambling sector so I'm very much a newbie to the retail side of things and returns are something I just haven't really had to deal with in the past.

    Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    Policies vary greatly by merchant, and each merchant sets their own terms. I've seen them as short as a 14 day return policy to as long as 60 days. Decide what makes sense for your product, and use that. How long would it take a customer to decide whether they want to keep something or return it? As far as the rest of the policy, go to some of your competitor's sites and read their policies. Determine what you like and what you don't, then formulate your own.
    Jeannine Crooks - Always happy to share what I know! - Voted Best Network Rep 2013 & 2014
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response.
    How do returns work in terms of commissions? If I drive a sale to a site, will the commission show up straight away? Or would I have to wait for the duration of the returns period (ie. to ensure the customer doesn't return the product) before the commission is validated?
    I appreciate that not all programs operate in the same way but I just want to see if I'm thinking along the right lines.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    While the sale will show up in the affiliate's account as soon as it is made, usually it will remain in pending status until the return period has ended. Depending on the affiliate, this could be a factor in whether they choose to participate in your program; having to wait 60 days in case the consumer decides to return an item before the commission gets paid is not appealing!

    But if you pay the commission prior to that, you run the risk of paying commission on a sale which returns. Some merchants do that, deciding that it is more important to pay their affiliates than risk the amount the commission may cost against a possible return. They just consider it one of the costs of doing business.

    Study your company, see what your return rate is, and forecast what that might have cost you in commissions. Balance that against what your affiliates can do for you, and decide how you want to handle things.
    Jeannine Crooks - Always happy to share what I know! - Voted Best Network Rep 2013 & 2014
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    US Programs | Canada Programs | UK Programs | Ireland Programs | Mainland Europe Programs

  5. #5
    Full Member Lindy Rig's Avatar
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    Mildperil.... just a quick question for clarification, are you approaching this question from the merchant side or the affiliate side?

  6. #6
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    Thanks a lot Jeannine, your explanation has been very valuable. I guess merchants really do have to think quite carefully about how they approach this. If every time I generated a sale I knew I wasn't going to get the commission for at least 60 days, then I would be rather put off.
    @Lindy - I am approaching this from the affiliate side but it is good to learn what the merchants have to take into consideration as well. It helps me to understand everything as a whole.

  7. #7
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Some categories like shoes and clothing have as high as 50% return rates in season. Some merchants extend commissions 30 days past the month of sale to protect against that. most affiliate programs have low return rates if the shipping is done quickly and there is good customer service. With a return rate of 1-3% it is a wash in the program and the return in credit whenever possible with some paying commissions on returns occasionally. Then you factor it as a cost of the program against your channel payout and move on.

  8. #8
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    All varies by network, as well.

    Merchants have 90 days to 'adjust' commissions/reverse sales on LinkShare. Total bullsh@t but that's where some of your movers and shakers reside. Top it off, Those merchants often take 90 days to pay as well. Unlike networks that actually reverse sales for a previous month, LinkShare merchants will reverse a sale made in say October in January - but you will get paid for that October sale whenever the merchant pays their October (November 1) invoice - then that sale goes against your balance for that merchant in January's sales numbers and eventual payment for January. You CAN go in the red.

    I hate their policies and accounting on LinkShare - but, it's built to favor merchants, not affiliates.

    Other networks allow merchants to 'extend' a sale. CJ is the worst, then eBay EAN. Networks like Shareasale and AvantLink don't abuse affiliates...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  9. #9
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Chuck is being conservative with up to 50% return rate.

    Shoes/Fashion are much higher depending on the merchant.

    We see consistant rates above 75% for some well known clothing merchants - expeically if they are on LinkShare...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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