Ecommerce Holiday Returns: What Customers Want

By Baillee Perkins
Nov 10, 2023
A yellow shipping box is open with a white and green present inside and a red arrow wrapped around to represent returns.

Gift-giving and gift-returning go hand-in-hand. Siblings might accidentally buy their parents the same gift. A piece of clothing might not fit the way your customer wants it to. There could’ve been a mixup with which toy someone was supposed to get their niece or nephew. The reasons for returns are endless. 

Don’t just take our word for it. In our recent study with Retail Economics, 24% of customers stated that a flexible return policy will be the most important factor when choosing where to shop this holiday season. Our study also shows that shoppers are projected to spend $253 billion globally, with over $183 billion coming from North America. A clear, concise, and flexible return policy can make all the difference for customers who may be on the fence, ensuring boosted holiday sales. 

  1. Review your returns policy annually
  2. Building the perfect holiday return policy
  3. Tips for a successful holiday return policy
  4. Resources

Review your returns policy annually

Reviewing your current return policy is as important as creating a good return policy. It’s also easy to forget to check your return policy in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. An unclear return policy may be viewed by prospective customers as inconvenient. The easier you make your return process, the better. Put yourself in the mindset of a customer visiting your website for the very first time. 

  1. Would you understand the steps in your return process? 
  2. Would you be able to locate customer support channels if you had questions? 
  3. Is there information about how the holiday season impacts returns?

Building the perfect holiday return policy

When you begin reviewing or creating your holiday return policy, keep in mind that the customer visiting your site won’t always be the same customer who purchased the item originally. Your policy should be clear enough that any person visiting your site should know exactly what they need to do. Using the three questions we asked earlier, you’ll be able to create the perfect return policy to stand out from the competition. 

Learn more about customer expectations in our blog, Planning for the Holiday Shipping Season.

Would you understand the steps in your return process?

Go to your website and look at the return policy. Was it easy to find if you didn’t know where to look? If not, try to reduce the amount of clicks between reaching your website and finding the policy. Consider making returns its own menu option. Read through all of the information in your return section. 

Do customers need to reach out for a label, or does your business include them with the shipment? If customers need to reach out, check that the appropriate channels are listed. If you include return labels with a shipment, include this information in your confirmation emails, so customers know to check the box. 

Finally, are returns free, or do they come with a cost? Call out this information in a bold font or place it near the top of your return section. If return fees are charged at checkout, be transparent. Surprise fees can lead to customer dissatisfaction and the loss of repeat business, so don’t be afraid to over-communicate.

Would you be able to locate customer support channels if you had questions?

Sometimes, websites glitch or a customer needs a helping hand when beginning their return process. That’s why reviewing all of your customer support channels is crucial. Say a customer tries to call your support line, but there’s an 8 instead of a 6 listed. Not only would that customer not be able to reach you, but it could prevent them from purchasing from your business again. The same thing goes for emails and question forms. Review all of your available support channels with these questions in mind: 

  • How long is the wait time for phone support?
  • Are emails being sent to spam or social folders?
  • How long does it take for an email to be received?
  • Which email address is receiving customer question forms?
  • Are all of the email addresses and phone numbers listed correct and/or the best channels to contact your business?

It’s also worth considering adding an FAQ section to your support options to better help customers during the busy holiday season. This way, customers can try to get their questions answered without having to reach out, which keeps the wait times for support down and customer satisfaction up. 

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Is there information about how the holiday season impacts returns?

Customers are traveling and may not always have the ability to visit carrier locations to drop off packages. Inclement weather may prevent carrier pickups. The craziness of the holiday season may lead customers to forget about items they need to return. All of this to say, your holiday return policy should account for the “what ifs.” 

Consider extending your return window to maintain customer satisfaction. Customers will appreciate the consideration, making them more likely to purchase from you in the future. Additionally, an extended return window could decrease the amount of customer service needed. This keeps your support channels from being bogged down and reduces the wait time for other customers. 

Tips for a successful holiday return policy

  • Be transparent if customers will need to pay for returns 
  • Tell customers in advance if return labels are included with orders
  • Include clear and easy-to-follow instructions for returning products 
  • Extend return windows during the holiday season to accommodate customers 
  • Consider adding an FAQ section to your website to avoid long wait times for customer support
Start preparing for the holiday season now with the help of our blog.


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Baillee Perkins

Baillee Perkins is a writer of shipping by day and pop culture by night, so her Google search history is an actual nightmare.

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