The Holiday Returns Rush is Coming. Are You Ready? 

Holiday returns from Black Friday shopping

Fall is here, and ecommerce retailers are gearing up for the busiest holiday shopping time in ecommerce.  

In 2021, Black Friday in the U.S. brought in $8.9 billion according to Adobe Digital Insights. Of which, Shopify’s ecommerce merchants sold $2.9 billion in sales worldwide, increasing 21% from 2020. 

Beyond the excitement and rush of revenue is the looming tsunami of ecommerce returns.   

Returns and gift returns can cause friction within the customer experience, but an adequate tech stack to manage and mitigate inefficiencies in these processes is pivotal to success and future growth.  

Customers try to return unwanted gifts after the holidays

The Friction of Returning Holiday Gifts

Gift returns after the holiday season are unavoidable. When a recipient needs to return a product, due to a sizing issue, defect, or personal preference, the experience they have can make or break a brand. 

Without the relevant product and purchase information, the gift recipient can struggle to begin a return and to know where to start. Of course, no one wants to tell the gift giver that they are returning the product to get a receipt or to find out where the item was purchased. 

When it does happen, a smooth customer experience when initiating a gift return can only go so far—what happens when the return is out of the recipient’s hands and in the customer service and warehouse teams? 

Holiday Returns and the Operational Challenge  

Returns are, at the core, a merchant operational challenge.  Without the correct systems and processes in place, teams can quickly become overwhelmed by the influx of returns from Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or gifts that carry on throughout the holiday season. 

Customer service and warehouse teams are left to work long, laborious hours manually entering data into spreadsheets and tracking down the disposition and location of returned items.  

Operational challenges can lead to inevitable shipping delays, bottlenecks in customer service, and backups at the warehouse. Any holiday cheer quickly turns into a frenzy of emails, frustrated customers, and a poor post-purchase experience. 

So, how do retailers stay ahead of these challenges and mitigate the friction caused by returns? The answer lies in a returns management solution that will enable merchants to: 

  • Automate returns workflows saving 40+ hours each week 
  • Provide a frictionless customer experience for gift returns 
  • Dramatically cut down on emails coming into customer service teams 
  • Allow for multiple return policies for different products purchased during the holiday season 
  • Analyze returns data to gather actionable insights, to drive more sales and less returns 

With the 2022 holiday season approaching, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are sure to be exciting, but hectic times. With it comes surges of sales and the allure of profit, but the wave of returns and gift returns can be overwhelming.    

The key is to focus on optimizing returns operations before the challenges of returns take away from the holiday sales rush and store profits.  

By solving the operational needs first, the customer experience is soon to follow. Better returns management empowers retailers to dramatically improve the efficiency of the returns process and improve customer lifetime value. 

Ecommerce retailers who have a robust, operations-1st returns solution in place heading into the busy holiday season can be confident that they possess the tools required for future growth and business success.