You know how to handle returns during the holiday season. But what about right after that? Here’s everything you need to know about managing returns after the holidays.
The business world today is customer-centric. Consumers nowadays are well-informed, connected, and aware of all the options available to them, including returning the products purchased. Return of products purchased is more prevalent in eCommerce retail, especially after the Holidays. A 2021 study says that a significant 42% of online shoppers already planned on returning some or all their holiday gifts. Apart from this, almost 46% of online shoppers are unlikely to purchase from a retailer if they experience a poor return policy.
Since online shopping became prevalent and gained popularity, returns have always been challenging for eCommerce retailers. Typically, eCommerce return rates are 2x or 3x higher than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Some of the popular reasons for returns are the following:
- The purchased product doesn’t work as per expectation
- The product delivered doesn’t match the description online
- Returning a gift, they don’t want
These are applicable more for some products such as apparel, beauty, health and wellness, shoes, or gift items. As reported by WSJ, the average eCommerce return rates vary from 20 to 30%. Hence, the sales upsurge during the Holidays mostly ends with the highest returns rate immediately after the Holidays.
So, handling your returns well can be a good marketing opportunity for your brand to earn some loyal customers for the long haul. After all, as high as 95% of online shoppers tend to purchase from merchants providing a good, seamless return or exchange experience. This is applicable more during the Holidays when consumers purchase many personal items and gifts that they might find redundant or unnecessary after the festivities are over. Let’s look at some helpful tips to manage Holiday returns efficiently:
- Holiday Specific Return Policy. As an eCommerce retailer, it is understood that you already have your return policy in place. However, the Holidays season is a special time that calls for some tweaks in your returns policy. The minor tweaks you make might go a long way to make your customers happy.
- Put Your Return Policy at a Place Where Customers can See. It is not enough to make a Holiday specific return policy. You have to place it where it is easily visible to your customers. You can put it on product pages, checkout pages, and invoices to ensure there’s no chance of missing it.
- Categorize Returned Products. While returns keep coming after the holidays, you also need to take care of your regular sales. Hence, it remains streamlined if you handle these separately to increase efficiency.
- Maintain Returns Data for Reference. Always ensure that you keep the data of your returned products for future reference. Keep a note of which products were returned and the main reason for return. This data might help you tackle your returns the following year.
How 3PLs can Help
Even with these helpful tips to manage Holiday returns efficiently, the task is quite challenging. Also, it doesn’t help that eCommerce returns generally increased by 70% in 2020 since the pandemic. In such a scenario, it is always best to help the experts and rely on them to do their job while you focus on your business. With their expertise in managing shipment and logistics, they can help you with any volume of returns without additional investments. Here are some of the benefits of hiring a 3PL and how they can help:
- Wide Network. Managing fulfillment and logistics professionally, 3PLs have a more extensive facility network than any eCommerce retailer. Leveraging this network, they can reduce the shipping cost of your returned goods.
- Resources to Make Returns Easy. Experienced and equipped with a dedicated logistics team, 3PLs can handle the return process efficiently and make it easy for your customers. Return handling is nowadays a big qualifier for online shoppers.
- Quality Check. You need a team to handle the quality check of the condition of the returned products. 3PLs have their dedicated team to handle this process as per your parameters. It helps categorize the returns whether to put back in inventory, recycled, or discarded.
- Affordable Carrier Rate. Due to their industry experience, 3PLs can negotiate better rates and bulk discounts from the carriers, which are generally difficult for individual eCommerce retailers. Hence, they make your return process much more cost-effective.
- Advanced Technology. Technological backbone is the greatest advantage of any 3PL provider. They provide you with advanced and sophisticated logistics technology that gives you real-time tracking data.
- Scalability. Being professionals in the logistics industry, 3PLs can scale up quickly as per market demands, mainly during special seasons like the holidays. Scaling up and then tracking back becomes difficult for individual eCommerce retailers.
You might be wondering whether you need to hire a 3PL partner. Let’s see how you can decide that you need help to process your returns. Ask yourself some of these questions, and it’ll help you decide:
- Do you have returns piled in the warehouse waiting for processing?
- Are you pulling staff from the packing or other departments to handle returns? Is it delaying your regular order fulfillment?
- Are you paying overtime to your warehouse staff to process returns?
- Are you facing a space crunch for returned goods?
Maybe the answers to the above will help you make the right decision for your business.
In the end, we all know that handling a large number of returns can be stressful for any eCommerce retailer. However, it is almost the inevitable aftermath of the upsurge of sales during the Holidays season. It is always best to accept it “with a pinch of salt” and work out ways to handle this phase efficiently. After all, it also provides you with an opportunity to leave a lasting mark on your customers if you give them a stellar return experience.
XPDEL is a leading hi-tech provider of fulfillment and logistics services, on a mission to enable growth for eCommerce companies. We are futuristics in our vision and constantly work on creating technology that helps us meet customer expectations for today and tomorrow. We have a widespread network of fulfilment centers that enables us to efficiently handle nationwide delivery in the US – same day, next day, 2-day delivery. Being closer to the end consumer, we deliver much faster than others.