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Christmas is almost upon us and shoppers are right into the swing of things with purchasing gifts for the holiday season. Sound familiar? Then it’s time to get ready for the next stage… returns!

It’s inevitable that your business will see a rise in returns after Christmas and into the new year. It’s easy to get frustrated with returned items as nobody in retail likes giving money back to customers!

It’s important to keep your customers happy with a fair, easy and simple returns policy to increase brand loyalty into the new year. The happier you keep customers over the holiday season, the more likely they will be to return in 2016.

Discover what your customers want when it comes to returned inventory.

Here’s some tips to keep your customers sweet during post-Christmas returns and get those shoppers returning in the new year!

1. Extended Holiday Return Policy

You’ve probably already offered an extended holiday return policy but if you haven’t, consider accepting returns on products bought between October and December. This way the early shoppers will not be penalised for being so organised! 

2. Make the Return Process Easy

Eliminate hassles so your Christmas shoppers return in the future. Online returns should be free and easy, whether that’s via a physical store, mail or collection points. Including free-post will make consumers more likely to shop with you again as shoppers do not want to pay to send items back. In store returns should be simple, don’t keep the customers hanging around too long.

3. Communicate Clearly and Often

This tip is especially important for your ecommerce store. Communication is key to keeping a customer happy. Keep the customer informed throughout the process by letting them know you’ve received the item and when the return has been processed.

4. Offer the Best Customer Service

Shoppers are likely to be a little stressed when returning presents during the hustle and bustle of Boxing Day and January sales. In store, it’s likely to be busy and they’re likely to have to queue so offer the best customer service to ensure customers leave with a smile on their face. Online, make sure emails are responded to quickly and someone is available to answer the phone. If you offer a friendly service, how can customers resist your charm and not return?

5. Make Sure Staff Are Knowledgable

Make sure all your staff are trained on the returns and exchange policy in place for the holiday season. A knowledgeable member of staff is more likely to keep the customer happy. If you’ve already informed your staff members, why not have a quick reminder before all the returns begin? This will ensure it’s fresh in everyone’s minds when the returns start rolling in.

6. Understand Your Returns

It may be handy to find out why people are returning the items to help with purchasing in the future. Asking a simple question during the returns process, such as “what’s the reason for return?”, will give you insight into what to stock in the future. You may want to stop selling a certain item if it’s frequently returned as faulty or poor quality.

7. Offer Alternatives

Turn a return into an exchange by suggesting an alternative product. If you offer a suitable alternative, you may prevent a minus sale! Listen to the reason why they aren’t the item and see if you can offer a solution which doesn’t result in a return. Wrong colour, style or size? Offer an alternative and save the sale!

8. Can’t Return? Offer an Exchange!

Everyone likes to think they can buy the best presents but that’s not always the case as people return unwanted Christmas presents. Why not offer an exchange without a receipt on products that are exclusive to your business? This way you don’t lose any money as they will have to buy something else from you! If they’re a returning customer, you’re likely to increase the customer’s loyalty and if they haven’t shopped with you before, you may have just gained a new customer.

9. Get Products Back Into Your Sales Channels

It’s important to get those products back into your sales channels as quickly as possible. The quicker you get them back on sale, the quicker you can sell the items again. Make sure your returns process is ready to get those items back on sale whilst customers are still keen to shop in the January sales. 

Learn to Love Returns is the fourth and final chapter from The Ultimate Retail Guide to the Holiday Season 2015. Download the guide for free for more tips about returns this holiday season!

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About the Author

Danielle Ricketts is the Senior Global Content Manager at Brightpearl where she spends her time following her passions of writing, retail and social media. She can be found writing away about all things retail or engaging with followers online.