Bracing for Holiday Returns

holiday returns 2Did you know one in three gifts are returned? As retailers are counting their successes this holiday season, savvy stores are also planning for the logistical nightmare that lays ahead. Post-holiday returns are not a new phenomenon, but it is increasingly problematic. By the time the holidays are over, around $80 billion worth of merchandise will be returned. It costs retailers twice as much to processes a back-on-shelf return as it does to sell that product. The retail industry has seen a 35 percent increase in holiday returns since 2015 and a total annual return increase of 70 percent since 2015.

This phenomenon is even more pronounced for ecommerce retailers. The rise in online shopping means more people are buying products without seeing or feeling them firsthand. An article on Forbes reports that two-thirds of online shoppers check an etailer’s return policy before making a purchase. 15 percent will abandon their cart if the policy is unclear. For many online shoppers, returns are simply part of the shopping process. Buy multiple sizes to see what fits best, buy a few different options and return the ones you didn’t like. As an independent retailer, there are a few strategies you can use to minimize returns and curtail your losses on products that are returns

Helpful Product Pages
Shoppers know apparel sizing can vary from store to store, brand to brand, and even from item to item within the same store. The guesswork of choosing accurate sizing is a big contributor to excessive returns. If you can, display photos of your product on several different models in various shapes and sizes. Always put product measurements. If something runs a tad larger or smaller than most of your other items, be sure to note that, too. More information will help shoppers feel confident in choosing the correct size. 

In-Store Pickup
If you have a brick and mortar presence, offer shoppers the option of coming to your store to pick up their orders. Encourage them to try on their products before they leave so you can resolve any concerns before the items even leave your store.

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Reverse Logistic Services
For some retailers, the time and labor it takes to repackage and reticket returns to put back on the shelf are simply not worth it. There are many companies who will purchase your returns as-is. This can save you the headache of trying to resell one-off items or slightly damaged goods.

Accurate Recommendations
For brick and mortar retailers, train your associates to be able to offer personalized product recommendations and gift packages. A one-size-fits-all product push rarely works well and can lead to unwanted gifts and a flurry of returns. Associates should know features and benefits of all your products and when to recommend them based on the shopper’s reason for purchase.