Your marketing team have probably been working flat out since February on preparing gift cards, festive e-mail campaigns and seasonal promotional products to capitalize on those few weeks in November and December when everybody is shopping flat out…
But just how much thought has gone into managing all those jumpers which are one-size-too-small, and box sets which will have been received in duplicate from well-meaning grandparents?
Managing the influx of post-Christmas returns is the less glamourous side of the festive season, but if you want to keep your customers happy and your margins healthy, providing a professional returns solution is the key to success.
Here are a few key tips to bear in mind to help you anticipate and manage the increasing volumes of returns after the festive period :
1. Extend your returns period policy during the festive season
Many people buy gifts as early as the beginning of November so keeping your returns policy at the mandatory two weeks, is not going be popular with customers. Most retailers extend their returns policy until at least mid-January for an item purchased in November and December.
2. Don’t hide your returns policy hoping that the customer won’t want to return
Unclear information, means increased an number of customer service enquiries. Keeping information about returns hidden discreetly on your website is a false economy. Customers are more likely to be reassured by clearly communicated returns information and want to purchase on your website.
3. Offer a straightforward solution to your customers
No customer wants to have the return an item, so let’s make it as pain free as possible. Making the returns process as straightforward as possible is a sure bet for customer satisfaction. Some retailers may choose to preprint returns labels and place them in the parcel, others may offer an online returns solution such as ShopRunback which gives the customer choice and full tracking and visibility on the process. Either way, make it easy.
4. See a return or a refund as an opportunity for customer engagement or even acquisition
The festive period is the perfect opportunity for customer acquisition as most of those who make the purchases are not those who receive the gift. By sending one of your products to a loved one, your customer is giving you the perfect opportunity to acquire a new client. Even if they have the return an item, make sure that they have a positive experience and want to come back to you later on.
5. Entice your customers into exchanging rather than asking for a refund
Refunds are every retailers’ nightmare. Try to offer the possibility to exchange an item rather than refund by offering the customer by offering a straightforward exchange process. Customer service operators can play a vital role in making this process as smooth as possible for the customer by advising on similar products, sizing or other helpful information to make the difference. Why not offer additional promotional codes on future purchases when the customer chooses an exchange or credit note instead of a straight-out refund? The chances are they want to come back, so make it as enticing for them as possible.
There is sadly no magic wand solution to remove this inevitable part of the business but including returns (and refunds) into your business model and providing the right solution, can make the difference between post-Christmas success and post-Christmas gloom.