Merchants looking to maximize their cyber-week sales need to plan for an increase in purchases, but they also need to plan for an increase in returns.
In fact, each day leading up to Christmas sees roughly 1 million packages returned, with the peak number of packages, roughly 1.4 million, shipped back to sellers on January 3rd (also known as “National Returns Day”). Because of this, merchants need to make sure they have a strategy on how to best handle returns after the holiday boom is over.
To help you know what to expect this holiday season and to make sure you are equipped to deal with returns, see our tips below:
Know What Items Get Returned Most Frequently
To plan ahead for the holiday season and potential returns, it is important to know what items have a higher chance of being returned.
Clothing and accessories have the highest chance of being returned, with 75% of returned items falling into that category. On the other hand, beauty and personal products, and outdoor and sports gear have the lowest chance of being returned (13% and 12% respectively).
During the holiday season, toys and games are also a competitive category, increasing the likelihood of returns.
Knowing what products have a higher chance of being returned helps merchants prepare (as best as possible).
Familiarize Yourself with Your Platform Policy
If you sell your products on an external platform, such as Amazon or eBay, make sure you are familiar with the holiday return policy that the platform offers customers.
For example, if you sell your goods on Amazon and are part of the Amazon FBA program, in which Amazon fulfills your sales, you need to be aware of Amazon’s extended return policy for the holidays. Under their extended holiday season return policy, customers can return goods until January 31st in exchange for a refund or store credit.
If you do not take advantage of the Amazon FBA program or oversee your own logistics, you can set your own return policy. Keep in mind that many customers will choose sellers that have a more lenient return policy during the holiday season.
If the products you sell include those that cannot be returned, such as fresh flowers, live plants, downloadable software etc., make sure potential customers are well aware of your return policy.
How to Avoid Product Returns
While some returns are unavoidable, especially following cyber week, there are things merchants can do to reduce the chances of their products being sent back.
- Have a very detailed product description – By making sure to convey all possible information about the products, there is a higher chance of buyers knowing exactly what to expect, reducing the chances of the product being returned.
- Make sure sizes are clear – Since sizing problems are one of the most common reasons why customers return products, it is important to have a clear size guide. For clothing and accessories, be sure to list numerical values in your size guide so that customers have a higher chance of finding the product that suits their needs. For non-clothing items, make sure to show size dimensions in one of the main pictures so customers are not surprised by how big or small the product is when it arrives.
- Show the product from every angle – By sharing multiple images from every angle and including a video, your potential customers will get a better idea of the product and take that information into consideration when completing their purchase.
Of course, as a seller, it is important to always sell high-quality products and to have product descriptions that are accurate. If your products consistently do not meet the expectations of consumers, you risk an extremely high return rate and potential loss of merchant rights on certain platforms.
Making Returns into a Positive Thing
One of the most important things for sellers is establishing a positive relationship with every customer – this includes dissatisfied customers. In fact, while 30% of products ordered online are returned, 92% of customers will order from the same store they returned an item to if the return process was seamless. That is why making sure to treat each dissatisfied customer with respect is important for merchants.
The way to do that is by making sure that you understand their dissatisfaction and do not argue with customers. Make sure to always respond to each negative review or comment and try to see what you can do to make it right.
Ultimately, merchants need to remember that even online sales are all about building relationships. This can be done by:
- Providing a seamless return process
- Making your customers feel that their needs are addressed
- Ensuring a positive overall experience with your online store
As a result, you are increasing the chances for return business while boosting sales and revenue generation for the long run.