Are You Ready for Holiday Returns?

by
January 4, 2017

The dust is settling following a record-breaking holiday season — Cyber Monday alone was the largest online sales day in history with $7.9 billion spent online,

dealing with holiday shipping in the form of holiday returns. This time of year, there are plenty of reasons for merchandise returns. Whether a shopper wants a refund on item they bought for themselves or a gift recipient is trying to send back something they don’t want or can’t use.

UPS holiday shoppers returned more than Day (and that’s just via UPS—the number only climbs when adding in USPS and FedEx returns, too).

Wondering what you can do to make the return process easier for your customers without hurting your business? It’s all about your policy and your people.

Your returns policy

At a minimum, your ecommerce website should have a dedicated returns page explaining what can and can’t be returned and how long customers have to return an item. You should also include the process for returning merchandise, and any associated costs, like restocking fees. Making sure your returns information is easy to find is important—place a link to your returns policy page on your homepage where the link is easily found. Also consider including a link to the returns policy page on all product pages and during the checkout process.

Some online retailers may choose to adjust their holiday return policy for the season. Typically giving 14 days for the return process, it depends on the individual retailer to change or extend their policies. If you do decide to alter your holiday return policy, it can be done by:

  • Extending the returns window – Extend the return time window during the holiday seasons to make the return process easier
  • Placing more emphasis on the exchange policy – Make it easier for the recipient of an unwanted gift to trade it in for something else from your store
  • Clearly stating the holiday return policy – State when a full refund is an option and when only store credit and exchanges are available (i.e. when someone wants to return a gift with or without a gift receipt)

If you do adjust your returns policy for the holidays, just be sure to update your website once you go back to your standard returns policy.

Your employees

Whether they’re full-time staff or seasonal employees, make sure your team is properly trained to handle holiday returns. There is two key sections of your staff roster that you need to focus on. They are customer service and your warehouse staff.

Your customer service team should know your holiday return policy inside and out and know when to flag special cases (like when someone wants to return that sweater Aunt Gladys gave them but they didn’t get a gift receipt). Checking in with customer service can help you ensure that the returns process is flowing smoothly, and may also help determine if there are recurring returns-related issues that you need to address and improve upon. Keeping your staff educated ensures your customer’s questions and needs will be met in a timely matter.

You’ll also want to train receiving and warehouse staff on how to process returned merchandise. The sooner your team can unpack and review return shipments, the sooner you can issue a refund, and the sooner your customer can check another item off their post-holiday list. Customers are more likely to return to do business on a site that handles their packages quickly and efficiently.

ShipStation can help

The last way to make holiday returns easier for your customers is through ShipStation. Available for more than just the holiday season, pre-printed ShipStation return labels are provided for packages yearlong to make returns easier for you and your customers. See how to set this up by clicking here.

Ensuring your customer’s holiday returns run smoothly is no easy task. However, with the right return process and educated staff, you can easily keep the customer shopping experience positive.