Ezra van Hassel
5 February 2024
Holiday returns, returns after the holidays
Lots of returns after the holidays? Here's what you can do about it!
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas are ringing the tills of most merchants. However, the high order volume in the fourth quarter is usually also followed by a higher return rate in the first quarter of the new year. Unfortunately, you cannot prevent returns completely, but there are some measures you can take to reduce the amount of returns after the holidays. Here you will discover what you can do to curb this flood of holiday returns!
Troubled by lots of returns after the holidays?
For many merchants, the holiday season is one of the busiest periods of the year. But what is left of sales after the wave of returns in the following months? According to a survey by Shopify, as many as 30% of online orders are returned during this period; in the fashion industry, the percentage is even higher. The increase in returns in the first quarter is not only due to unwanted Christmas gifts, but also because consumers are often inundated with offers in the run-up to Christmas. The time pressure associated with those offers often makes people think less long about a purchase, which can lead to hasty purchases and regret afterwards.
Reduce returns after the holidays
Although returning unwanted Christmas gifts is just a minor inconvenience on the to-do list of many customers, handling returns is usually a complex matter for online retailers. Processing the return request, and then checking, re-storing or disposing of (damaged) goods, takes a lot of time and often money. Moreover, each unnecessary parcel involves shipping costs and many returns also pollute the environment. However, online retailers often do not realise that a customer-friendly and efficient returns process can ultimately even lead to higher sales.
Enough reason to take a look at how you can optimise your returns process and reduce your returns after the holidays from now on.
Managing returns more efficiently after the holidays
Many online retailers are under the assumption that they are completely at the mercy of the amount of returns that come in and cannot influence them at all. But nothing could be further from the truth! Fortunately, there are numerous ways to prevent and reduce returns. The following measures can help you curb the number of returns after the holidays.
Extended return period
Research shows that a longer return period, however counterintuitive, generally leads to fewer returns. It is unclear exactly why this is the case. It could be, for instance, that a longer return period gives customers more time to consider whether they want to keep the product and are therefore more likely to use it.
Integrate coupon codes into the returns process
Coupons can be used in several ways to reduce returns. Want to order a different size? Let your customers use a coupon code with store credit that allows them to buy a replacing product. Return one single product but keep the rest of a large order? Here's a coupon with a discount for your next purchase.
Coupons are also an excellent way to keep revenue in the bank instead of flooding it with refunds. While this won't directly reduce the number of returns, at least you can just keep the revenue you have made. Did you know that Returnless' return form allows you to create coupons automatically during the return process? That way you don't have to worry about it at all!
Limit free returns
Free returns are no longer the norm in the world of e-commerce. And having to pay for a return encourages customers to think a little longer about their order and whether they really want to place it. With a smart return processing tool, you can decide whether to offer customers free returns depending on the situation. For example, if the product is damaged (after uploading a photo as proof) or if the purchase amount of the products to be returned does not exceed a certain threshold. You can also let customers pay for their returns themselves, for example in the case of a simple return (i.e. not an exchange), or when many items are returned from the sale with which you would otherwise exceed your margin. And there are many other rules you can think of that allow you to pre-sort paid and free returns (and perhaps intercept a return here and there) - the sky is the limit.
Sort return requests in advance
Certain products, especially in the gifts category, cannot be exchanged. Think of personalised items or opened hygiene products such as perfume bottles or make-up. With a digitised returns process, you can automate such return requests via workflows and stop incorrect returns before they reach your warehouse. In Returnless' digital return form, customers need to enter their order number to create a return request. You can use the returns portal to set up specific rules for when a return should be automatically or manually approved and in which cases a return is legitimate and a return label can be created automatically right away.
The above points not only make the return process easier for you, it also makes it easier for your customers. The most important point in preventing returns is meeting customer expectations. Here, accurate product descriptions, clear images and fair pricing help, as well as a clear and transparent ordering and returns process. A good shopping experience increases customer loyalty . After all, they know what they got from you and are less likely to return products in future orders.
Reduce your returns after the holidays with Returnless
An efficient returns management is the basis for reducing returns. This starts with return software like Returnless, which allows you to set up a tailor-made returns process. With a digital return process, you know in advance what, when and why an item is returned and can respond better and more accurately to the situation at hand. Using specific rules and conditions, you can automate your returns processing and only have to manually process certain return requests, such as damage or complaints. This not only saves you staff costs and stress, but also allows you to intercept unnecessary returns in time and reduce your overall return rate.
Curious about the added value of Returnless for your returns process? Then book a demo or create a free account.
get started for free.
Play around and test out all features for free. Or schedule a demo with one of our colleagues if you'd like more info first.