The holidays are upon us and while retailers have the opportunity to reach the peak of their sales, there are also many challenges that come with this time of year, including customer returns. In fact, over one-third of holiday shoppers return gifts, costing retailers billions of dollars. Businesses should begin to prepare now for the onslaught of holiday returns.
Why is Reverse Logistics Important?
Reverse logistics is the process in the supply chain that handles the return of any goods to inventory. This includes products that are sold during the holiday period. With more holiday shoppers doing their shopping online every year, the reverse logistics process has become even more critical for businesses to understand and manage. Innovative and result-oriented solutions can help businesses deal with returns while keeping the customer satisfied. Even small changes in the supply chain can help cut the costs of returns by reducing freight and storage costs.
Tips for Handling the Holiday Return Rush
Businesses, especially those with an e-commerce portion of their selling strategy, might find the holiday time daunting. However, there are several strategies companies can enlist now to be prepared to handle the onslaught of returns that come this time of year.
Decrease the Number of Returns
Because online purchases are often returned more than purchases made in brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce retailers often have to deal with a heavy number of returns which affects margins. Retailers can help decrease the number of returns by giving as much information about size, function, and other product details as well as pictures to reduce the chance that customers will return an item because it was not what they expected. Data from previous holiday seasons can give insight as to which items are returned most often so efforts can be focused there.
Make the Process Simple
Returning an item should not be difficult for the customer. Whatever the reason for the return, the customer should feel comfortable making the return. Clear instructions on how to return an item should be included in the shipment and posted on the company’s website. Transparent return policies play a major role in a reverse logistics strategy.
Enlist the Help of a 3PL
Holidays are a busy time for companies, but you don’t have to handle the holiday return period alone. Using a shipping partner can make the returns process faster and easier by providing delivery tracking information. The 3PL provider inspects the returned items to determine if they can be restocked or can be refurbished or used for spare parts.
Enhance the Customer Experience
Review your returns procedure and make sure it is customer-centric. If your business’s return policy has not been reviewed since last year, this is the time to do it. That means enough customer service to connect with customers. And it includes responding to inquiries in a timely manner and staying in touch with the customer thought it the process. This increases customer satisfaction and retention. Updates on where the customer’s return is in the process is also helpful in simplifying the transaction and providing superior customer service.
Flexibility is important to customers during the return process, especially when they may have several returns to make after the holidays. In-store drop-off points or contactless drop-offs for local residents help customers see that you are working for them. Pre-printed mailing labels make it easy for the customer to make returns. Also, an extended returns timeframe can accommodate the longer than usual holiday returns.
Reverse logistics can be the most difficult part of the holiday season for businesses and retailers. It’s important to have a solid plan in place before the shopping season begins and the right partners to help you manage it. Since 97% of consumers are more likely to be repeat customers after a positive return experience, it is imperative that your business gets it right.
Your Trusted Partner
At Red Arrow Logistics, we provide expertise and white glove customer service with fast-growing, complex, and high-value supply chains. As the next-generation model of logistics companies, we offer tailored transportation and logistics solutions — from single shipments to complex over-dimensional and international orders.
Red Arrow offers the scale and scope of services including air, ocean, and ground transportation to meet the budget and schedule requirements of the largest and smallest companies alike. If we can be of assistance, please email us at email@example.com or give us a call at 425-747-7914.