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How to Prepare for Holiday Returns the Season

Casual man shopping at a tech store and talking to salesman over the counter The hustle and bustle of the holiday season doesn’t end for retailers when the holidays do. Instead of settling down, businesses need to pick it up and prepare for post-holiday returns. Whether the size doesn’t fit, the item doesn’t work property or the receiver simply doesn’t favor the gift – the reason doesn’t matter, but how the business handles the return does. Let’s take a look at how properly preparing for returns and a good inventory management system can make for a smooth gift return period. In 2015, the National Retail Federation said it expected one of every three gift recipients to return at least one item that holiday season. There’s no denying that post-holiday returns are an important focus for retailers of all types. According to the Wall Street Journal, the USPS alone processed 3.2 million returns after the holiday season a few years ago. While retailers spend many months preparing for holiday shoppers, it’s important for them to also prepare for growing online returns. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce grew by 14 percent in 2014, while traditional retail only grew by 3.8 percent. The increase in sales due to holiday shoppers brings great joy to most retailers, but conducing smooth and easy returns can have a large affect on holiday earning expectations. [Tweet "E-commerce grew by 14 percent in 2014, while traditional retail only grew by 3.8 percent."] Companies that consider holiday returns, especially online, simply outshine the rest. Shorr Packaging created an infographic for retails to display e-commerce returns best practices. According to the infographic, 85 percent of customers will not buy again from a company whose return process is complicated or inconvenient. On the other hand, 95 percent of customers said they would buy again from a company if the return process were easy. Customer retention around the holidays can make or break a company for the start of the following year. There are several ways to accomplish smooth and easy holiday returns this season, so let’s take a look.  First and foremost: Inventory Management Before you can organize your return plan, it’s important to implement inventory management. Online retail provides consumers speed and convenience, but it also allows them to expect the products they desire are always readily available. In order to ensure products are on-hand during this time of increased sales, automated inventory control software can help. If you haven’t already, install inventory software before the holiday rush starts to reduce the work you’ll have to do. Your business will experience a huge volume of inventory that takes extra time to track, but inventory control software has the ability to reduce that time and allow you to focus on more important tasks.

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In addition, integrating barcode scanners with inventory control software allows you to prevent items from going out of stock. This is an important way to create and monitor alerts when items get low and satisfy the large volume of holiday shoppers. After you’ve increased your sales and pleased your shoppers, you’re in a good position to tackle returns. Instead of manual inventory tracking during returns, barcode labels can be applied to any product to speed up the process. width="1000" While you prepare for the holiday shoppers, it’s important to also prepare the presentation of your return policy on your online website. It is essential to have a page solely dedicated to outlining the specifics of your return policy including: what can and can’t be retuned, the return time period and how to make the return. Links to your return policy page should be easily accessible on your website in order to ensure quick and easy contact from customers. Once you’ve ensured that your online return page is ready to go, consider following these tips by Woo Themes on establishing a killer return policy:
  • Make a special holiday extension on your return policy. For example, if your normal policy allows returns to be made within 30 days, consider extending it to 60 days to make your holiday returners happy.
  • Provide free return shipping on all holiday gifts. While the cost of providing free returns might be high-priced, there are a couple of key benefits from the process that can outweigh the expense. First, when your company offers free returns, you will attract more customers. When a customer is shopping online and noticed the retailer offers free returns, they will be more than likely to make the purchase. Second, you will give your business a competitive advantage. According to Total Retail, in the beginning of 2014, only 10 percent of all retailers offered free shipping to customers. Regarding the holiday season, consumers will more than likely become upset if they have to pay to return a faulty gift. Simply utilizing a barcode labeling software will allow you to print custom return labels that can be slipped in the initial gift box.
  • Always include refund information. It is better to be up front and fully inform your customer exactly how they will be credited for their returns, when the credit will be issues and in what method.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to add in contact information. When a customer has a question, they should always have an immediate way to get in touch with someone.
Final Procedure: Receiving Benefits According to the New York Times, 91 percent of consumers interviewed in a Harris Poll said that a store's return policy was an important factor in a purchasing decision. The “money-back guarantee” policy has been a historical way for retailers to stand behind their products and generate purchases. The months and months of planning for the holiday season come down to two things: proper automated inventory control and a solid return policy. Once your business is prepared with those methods, the hustle and bustle won’t nearly be as brutal and your entire workforce can breathe easy knowing they are providing the best service for their customers and benefiting the overall organization.