With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to brace your business for the increase in sales. Unfortunately, this also means an increase in returns. According to the Wall Street Journal, the 2017 holiday season saw 28 percent of the gifts people purchased returned, which is an estimated value of $90 billion. Typically, most merchants focus on fulfilling their outbound sales during the holiday season and worry about the returns after the seasonal rush. However, waiting can actually cut into profits. Once January hits, the need to buy is over and some items will loose their appeal. Here are some tips on minimizing the negative effects of returns this year during the holidays.
Actively Prevent Returns
The estimated cost of a single return is $15. This year, try investing time and resources into preventing returns. Consider implementing a Could-based shipping solution. This can limit mistakes by reducing the need to re-enter customer order and shipping information. Also, make sure product descriptions and photos are detailed and accurate. This will ensure that the consumer knows they are buying the correct product. Having a customer feedback or review can be a helpful feature. This will give the customer a better understanding of a product before they buy it.
Have a Good Return Policy
Be sure to have a simple return policy that has minimal exceptions. You want to keep your customers happy so that they will come back. If there are clear rules and instructions on your return policy, it also will empower the customer service staff. In order to account for return cost, some companies establish restocking fees and limit returns on clearance items.
Stay on Top of Returns
Even today, some ecommerce businesses don’t provide email status updates or notify the customer when the returned goods have been received. By having a digital record attached to the order, you can track the status of the return and keep the costumer informed on each step of the process. Keeping track of individual customer return profiles also helps the merchant to prevent fraud by setting up alerts for customers with high return rates or open balances.
Record Reasons for Returns
Understanding why the customer returned the product in the first place can help prevent returns in the future. Sharing this information with the entire company will help you fine-tune your inventory. One example is if a product is often returned for being too small, you can adjust the product description or size to better fit the customers needs.
The Return Process
It’s important to have a return process that separates reimbursement and inventory management. This can help retailers speed up both parts of the returns process. Once an item is received, evaluate it and reimburse the customer appropriately. When a return enters the reverse logistics workflow, it needs to be re-evaluated. If there is no damage, inventory can be updated via a warehouse management system and it can be available again to all sales channels. The quicker an item can be reintroduced into inventory, the more value it can retain.
This blog post was based off of an article by MSN. Read the full article here.