Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Return Policy: An important factor

The statement Dale and I hear most from our customers is "I have a hard to fit horse." and the most asked question is "What is your return policy?", usually asked after the most used statement. This points to two very important aspects you need to consider when purchasing a saddle. One is finding a saddle that fits, and we address that at our saddle fitting page. The second important factor when purchasing an expensive saddle is the store's return policy.

You may not initially realize the importance of the return policy of a store, but it can have a significant affect on your after purchase emotions. More so than the amount spent or saved on your initial purchase. A store that you fell in love with because of the extraordinary low prices, you may end up cursing in the end because of the very high return policy. Many online stores need a high costing return policy likely for two reasons.

The first reason is the store does not want you to return the saddle you purchased. I've found that most saddle dealers only have a few saddles in inventory, yet they put the whole catalog of the available saddles from the manufacturer on their website. They are looking for a quick profit without touching any merchandise. They are wanting a no risk business. This works well, except when the customer needs to return the merchandise. Suddenly, they not only have to give the manufacturer the money for the saddle, but they also have to give the money back to the customer. So, they have an inordinately high return fee. I've noticed several prominent online saddle dealers have a return fee of 20%. If you return a $1000 saddle, you would stand to lose $200 on top of shipping charges. I'm sure many people think twice about having to pay $200 to return a saddle.

The second reason is tied to the first reason. There is a cost to processing credit cards. We pay around 2% for every transaction. So, if we charge $1000, we pay the credit card company around $20. This money is not refunded if we issue a credit to the customer for a return. We have a low return fee because we know we will sell the saddle that is returned, usually in a short time. Most tack dealers sell only a few saddles a month. If they get a saddle back, one that they had to have the manufacturer ship for them, because they never had it in stock the first time, well, their money is tied up into that saddle. With the high return fee, they make their profit on the saddle return, so that when they have to sell the saddle at cost(the 2nd time) to get rid of it, they will still have a profit from the return.

When purchasing your next saddle, please be aware of the return fee. This gives great insight into the company you are dealing with. We work hard to make sure when you purchase your saddle from us that you are making a very informed decision on quality and fit. If you happen to purchase a saddle that does not fit, we have a very accommodating return fee. One that we do not profit from. Our average saddle sells for around $1000 and we offer free shipping. Our return fee is 5%. When you factor in the $20 bank fee we pay, on top of the around $30 shipping fee to get the saddle to you, you realize that on average we break even on returns. But, we have an excellent exchange policy. If you purchase a saddle and need to exchange it, there is no return fee and you only have to pay shipping for the 2nd saddle (actual shipping cost from our discounted rates rather than inflated shipping cost).

1 comment:

Hook said...

That is a great return policy. I reviewed the Saddle shops return policy after I read this blog entry and it expands the return policy significantly in understanding.

I think this information should be incorporated into the Saddle Shop's return policy and be given a more prominent place on the site.

It is a very good policy and should be highlighted to show the customer how this differates the Saddle shop from others.

It is a significant competative advantage that provide value to the customers.