As much as the holidays are our favorite time of year, we all know what is looming afterward–holiday returns. Around one-third of online orders are returned, with some industries (such as fashion) seeing even higher rates than that. E-commerce business owners dread the returns season and the headache that accompanies it. We’ll try to alleviate some of that headache by helping you with some preparation tips to keep in mind.
Revisit your returns policy
Did you know that 11% of consumers will abandon their online shopping cart if they think the returns policy is unsatisfactory? When was the last time you took a look at what your returns policy is and made any changes? Probably never years ago, right?
The busy holiday season isn’t the time to completely overhaul your policy, but it’s a good time to make sure you and your staff are clear before the holiday returns begin to roll in.
Is there a maximum time frame from purchase? Do you take the holidays into account as when that time period starts, or from date of purchase? What limitations exist for returns?
Any confusion or vague understanding of your policies could turn into a customer service nightmare and vastly reduce the likelihood of repeat business. 92% of consumers say they would shop with a business again if the return process were smooth and easy.
It would be best if you also decided who pays for the shipping on returns. As you can imagine, most customers will expect you to pick up the tab. 79% of customers say they want free shipping on returns, according to data from Invesp.
After all the holiday returns madness dies down, should you decide to update your returns policy for next year, or want help tweaking it, you may find this article helpful.
Know how to process returns in your shipping solution
You don’t want holiday returns to interfere with business or slow you down. If you or your team are not sufficiently familiar with the process of handling returns in your shipping software though, that’s exactly what is going to happen.
Take some time to familiarize yourself and your team with everything that goes into processing returns, from handling the initial interaction to sending a replacement out the door. Customers aren’t typically patient when it comes to getting an exchange or their money back, so the less time you have to waste in processing their return, the better.
Below is a list of quick resources if you’re a ShippingEasy customer (even if you’re not, you may find some of the information helpful):
- Create a return label
- Can you get a refund?
- Prepaid returns FAQ
- Scan-based FAQ
- UPS Return label options
- Amazon Returns
- Create a prepaid return label without an order
Remember customer service will be key with holiday returns
Sure, holiday returns are a hassle to deal with, but there is also an opportunity to provide great customer service. Remember, the return could be the first interaction you have with a potential new customer who received a gift. Alternatively, it could be part of the ongoing relationship you have with the customer who made the initial purchase. Either way, how you handle that interaction matters.
Our CEO, Katie May, has this insight to offer when it comes to holiday returns:
“The returns process is full of interactions you can leverage to deepen customer engagement. Consider, for example, offering promo codes on your return labels or in return-related email exchanges. Gift recipients who were not previously in your marketing database who return items can be prime candidates for future promotions.”
Most customers don’t actually want to have to deal with returns. When you make the process easier, it pays dividends down the line, and they’ll remember you for it. In fact, according to the stat mentioned earlier, 79% of them will appreciate it.
Once you’ve started building that relationship, you need to continue growing it. Read the below article detailing how to build long-term relationships with your customers using creative email campaigns!