How Businesses Can Handle Holiday Returns6 min read

Introduction

The tensions surrounding the holiday season never seem to end! Just when you think you’ve dealt with an issue, another one pops up. 

Right after you’ve successfully paid attention to the challenges around shipping with major carriers, ticked off all the items on your checklist, and taken care of angry customers in a professional way, comes the issue of returns.

Running a business on any scale is already hectic. Managing the inventory, packaging, and keeping a tab on product deliveries can be overwhelming. Product returns only add to the chaos.

According to a survey by Oracle, this year, 77% of consumers plan to return some of their gifts and nearly 20% expect to return more than half. This fact alone is enough to impel companies to make their return policies holiday-season-friendly.

77% of consumers plan to return some of their gifts and nearly 20% expect to return more than half.

There are many reasons why customers return purchases, but handling returns is often easier said than done as it involves a variety of challenges.

Let’s take a look at how businesses can handle Holiday returns without having to spend a penny out of their pockets.

1. Make your returns policy easy to understand

21% of customers say retailers’ returns policies are the biggest hurdle to returning an item to a store.

Make your returns policy clear to your customers by displaying it prominently where they can find it. You could also print your instructions for returning on your packaging to make it effortless for them.

When it comes to your returns policy, use clear and simple English. Avoid verbose language or complicated sentences. Keep in mind that your customers might be from different parts of the world and may have only basic knowledge of English.

2. Offer flexible returns

Extend your deadlines for returns particularly for the holiday season. You can have a 90-day time window for non-perishable goods and less for products with a short shelf-life.

Having a flexible returns policy can give your products a second chance as customers will want to keep them longer before returning them. This could result in fewer returns.

45% of customers won’t shop with you again if you refuse to accept returns.

3. Don’t charge for returns

Asking customers to bear the cost of return shipping will end up frustrating them. Bear the cost of returns yourself.

If worried about the cost of reverse shipping considering the scale of your business, you can limit your free returns policy to a limited set of goods you offer or limit the time-window to the holiday season.

Remember, if a customer is not satisfied with your returns policy, you might lose a customer and end up spending more on marketing and other customer acquisition costs. Offering free returns is simply a small price to pay for a long-term benefit.

Offering free returns is simply a small price to pay for a long-term benefit. 

4. Convert returns into sales

Returns are always a great opportunity to upsell. You can recommend similar products or offer a discount as compensation if the cause of return is a fault from your end.

Apart from upselling, you can also turn returns into sales opportunities by simply maintaining a professional demeanor.

Customers wanting to return a product can be rude, foul-mouthed, or simply obnoxious. Consequently, training your support team to handle returns as professionally as possible without letting emotions get in the way is a must. 

A customer could’ve chosen to return a product due to selecting a wrong size or product or because of a lacuna in your manufacturing or delivery performance, which can be rectified.

Taking your customers’ feedback to improve your business will help you build a robust relationship with them.

6. Ensure on-time delivery to prevent returns in the first place

Dissatisfaction with delivery performance is among the reasons why customers return their orders.

Imagine a customer ordering their favorite wine for Christmas only to get their hands on it two days late(r). They have no choice but to return it as the wine can no longer serve its purpose.

Order delays, especially during the holiday season, end up leading to customer anxiety and negative reviews on social media.

Remember, It may take years to win a customer but just one bad delivery experience to lose them.

How LateShipment.com can help you

Make use of technology to track your parcels in real-time and send order updates to reduce each customer’s WISMO anxiety and make sure they are fully aware of their order’s status.

You can also use a delivery experience management platform like LateShipment.com to predict delivery errors and fix them by sending a replacement for a delayed/ broken package via same-day shipping before it affects your customer’s delivery experience.

LateShipment.com helps you automatically audit your shipping invoices to hold your carrier accountable for their service failures, get the refunds you deserve, and save on shipping costs.

How business can handle holiday returns - Table of contents

Conclusion

Handling returns, particularly in the hectic holiday season, is definitely not an easy task. No retailer wants to see a horde of customers wanting to return their products, especially while relaxing after excellent holiday sales.

Though there are several ways to handle returns, steps should be taken to reduce returns in the first place.

  • Render apt product descriptions and images on your website to set realistic expectations among customers
  • Offer impeccable customer service as customers might sometimes want to try getting products fixed first instead of returning, and
  • Make sure to fix delivery issues even before your customers are affected by them.

Take these measures and see your customer experience improve for yourself!

A Little about LateShipment.com

LateShipment.com is the world’s only logistics cloud tool that helps businesses of every size reduce shipping costs by up to 20% and provide memorable delivery experiences to customers at scale.

  • Save up to 20% on Shipping – Automatically audit your shipping carriers’ invoices and recover refunds for 50+ service failures & billing errors including late deliveries.
  • Real-Time Visibility – Monitor your outbound & inbound shipments across multiple shipping carriers on a centralized window, in real-time.
  • Critical Delivery Alerts – Pay attention to daily deliveries with predictive delay alerts and more on a purpose-built dashboard for support reps.
  • Proactive Issue Resolution – Proactively communicate with customers to prevent them from having bad experiences due to delivery failures.
  • Custom Delivery Notifications  – Send custom or automated delivery status notifications for events like “shipped,” “attempted,” & “delivered.”
  • Branded Tracking Pages – Build fully-customizable order tracking pages for your customers to improve brand recall and sales.

You can start using these features in less than 2 minutes without the need for any IT/business process change or coding. And the best thing is that LateShipment.com is a simple cloud-based plug-and-play solution that can seamlessly integrate with the tools you already use.

It’s that simple!

Click here to start saving money on your shipping and provide outstanding post-purchase experiences.