Returning an Item to the Store
To ensure that you can get a refund for an item the surefire way is to have a receipt. This is proof of your purchase. Before returning an item, make sure to know what the store's return policy is.
For example, electronics may be a smaller return window than returning clothes do. Hence, if you have a paper receipt it won't matter.
To help out with your receipt management make sure to track your expenses with your monthly budget and if you paid on a credit card. You can also take pictures as a backup and those can serve as a paper receipt. In addition, the store's scanning tool will be able to read the bar code.
Now in the event, that you don't have a receipt, the retailer should be able to give you a store credit. In turn, it works just like a gift card does. In some cases retailers will give a full return as they can track your credit card in their POS systems. Lastly, bring the items to the store, along with all original packing materials and accessories.
Returning an Item Online
As a rule, review the return policy before you make an online purchase. The return policy should be easy to find. Some stores will not allow for items to be returned if the packaging is opened and especially the item in the packaging has been opened. Not every store is a liberal as Costco.
With clothing, keep the tags in order to return the purchase(s). (This goes for in-store returns as well) Well desinged and reputable businesses have easy-to-understand instructions and are fairly liberal with their return standards.
Packaging an Item for Return
You will need to print a return shipping label and affix it to the package and then bring it to the shipping company that the retailer does business with. (U.S. mail, UPS, or FedEx).
Retialers will also have guidelines as to when an item must be returned to receive credit. Some businesses have more robust systems such as Amazon: Packages can be returned to Kohl's or Amazon Locker, a major shipping company or U.S. mail.
When you purchase an item from a third-party seller such as Amazon, Etsy or eBay or Amazon, you will have to contact the seller directly by email to arrange for a return or refund.