Are You Prepared for a Surge in Online Holiday Shopping (and Returns)?

This year more people will be shopping online, which means retailers can expect more returns.

The year 2020 has already been one like no other in recent memory, and now that we’re on the cusp of the holiday shopping season, it is likely to follow suit. Early surveys of customers indicate they are planning to do most of their holiday shopping online this year “to avoid crowds and exposure” to the COVID-19 virus. Even in a “normal” year, holiday shopping contributes to an increase in customer returns. If you don’t have a plan in place to manage returns for this year’s shopping season, now is the time to start.

The Influence of Returns on Shopping Patterns

As more of our retail lives move online, the importance of returns continues to increase in consumers’ minds. Survey after survey indicates that customers are more likely to shop on your website, and will usually spend more, if you allow people to return items for store credit or a refund.

The influence of larger retailers plays a role here too. Many now offer free shipping and free returns, which is a big selling point for consumers. In addition:

  • 62% of people would buy again if a brand offers free returns or exchanges
  • 69% avoid shopping from a site that charges return shipping or restocking fees
  • 96% of people would shop with a retailer again if the process to return items is “easy” or “very easy”
  • 27% of consumers would buy something online that costs $1,000 or more as long as it has free return shipping, compared with 10% who would buy it otherwise

The rate of returns for online shopping are about three times that of regular brick-and-mortar stores, and as high as five or six times the rate for “expensive” products.

How That Impacts Your Operations

Since many more people are likely to be shopping online this season, it presents a huge opportunity for online retailers to capture more sales. It’s critical that you are ready for not only the surge in initial sales (with proper forward logistics processes in place), but also for the surge in returns that is inevitable following the holiday shopping. The right reverse logistics software can help you:

  • Create processes for returns that allow your team to accurately track and manage them as they come
  • Verify purchases to avoid fraudulent returns
  • Authorize returns quickly and easily with RMAs
  • Facilitate better communication among team members, from warehouse and receiving to restocking and resale (if possible) or disposal
  • Streamline returns to provide quicker refunds or exchanges
  • Provide exceptional customer service with accurate, up-to-date information and automated communications about the status of each return
  • Track and report return data in real time to adjust your website and sales (helping to avoid some future returns)

Get Prepared

This holiday season, as more people shop online, it’s critical that you have your forward logistics and your reverse logistics in order. Don’t wait until the holiday shopping surge is upon us. Start today by scheduling a demo with ReverseLogix to see how easy it can be to bring your reverse logistics up to speed.