How to Deal With Holiday Returns

First of all, congratulations on making it through the holiday shopping frenzy. We know that with the joy of an influx in orders and new customers comes operational headaches, shipping mishaps, and, perhaps most dreaded of all, returns. While online shopping makes it easier than ever for customers to quickly make purchases, it also increases the probability that an item won’t fit or will feel or look different in person than it did on a computer screen, prompting additional returns.

Last year, consumers returned 8 percent of all purchases, with online clothing returns rising as high as 40 percent. These high numbers can really impact on your revenue—but they don’t have to. Here are a few ways to make holiday returns more manageable.

It’s Not Too Late to Update Your Website

Are you getting a lot of calls and emails with questions about your return policy? Even though it’s too late to change the policy itself, you can save your team time by calling attention to it on your website or FAQ page. Make it as simple as possible for customers to understand what returns you’ll accept, where or how they can return items, etc.

Keep the Customer First

Remember that the holiday season is a great time to turn first-time shoppers into loyal customers. Customer loyalty is critical to all businesses. Return customers account for 22.6 percent of the average retailer’s revenue, yet they only make up 11.6 percent of their customer base. It may be frustrating to offer partial discounts or full refunds when an exchange doesn’t work out, but keep in mind that the customer’s happiness with the ease of your returns process may determine whether or not they shop with you again.

Consider a Third Party for Handling Excess and Returned Inventory

Consider working with a company like Optoro, which works directly with retailers to keep products out of landfills and in consumers’ hands. Since many brands are hesitant to liquidate at low prices, Optoro sells under their customer-facing brand, Blinq, providing anonymity while continuing to sell products that have been returned and would otherwise collect dust on retailers’ shelves.

Review Your Return Policy

Now that you’ve had a chance to breathe, it’s important to take a look at what went well during the holiday season, and where there’s room for improvement. Was a certain item returned at an unexpected frequency? Could you have been more explicit in certain product descriptions on your website? Were customers able to easily find and understand your return policy? It’s easiest to see where you can be proactive with returns for future busy seasons while this one is still fresh in your memory.

Since 95 percent of customers will go back to a brand or retailer after having a positive returns experience, it’s worth putting in a few more weeks of extra effort to ensure a smooth process for customers and gain their loyalty.

Megan Lierley

Megan Lierley is a content marketer focused on thought leadership and customer stories. When she's not writing, listening to podcasts, or exploring her native Bay Area, Megan enjoys traveling the globe in search of the world's best eggs Benedict.
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