National Returns Week 2022 – What Retailers can Expect and Tips for Success
The holidays are behind us, but we are now amid the aftermath – national returns week. Over time, national returns day has grown to be a several-day affair. Online shopping had steadily been growing year-over-year, but with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic it has surged greatly.
People that have never shopped online before are now well acquainted with the process and are likely to continue shopping online. In fact, 263 million American consumers shop online – 80% of the population – this number is predicted to reach 291.2 million by 2025.
What can retailers expect for returns week 2022? Here’s an overview as well as a few tips to make future national return weeks successful for your ecommerce business.
Expectations for National Returns Week
Expectations for national returns week are similar to those of 2021 with one key exception. With the pandemic still ongoing customers are being more deliberate with their purchases to avoid having to make returns. This was something unexpected that was seen during last year’s national return day. According to Statista, the number of returns processed on returns day in 2021 was lower than that of 2020. Despite this the sheer number in returns will still be high – retailers and shippers have been proactive in preparing.
Shipping providers are well underway accepting and processing returns through the reverse logistics process. Companies like Amazon began hiring seasonal employees in October of last year to increase their workforce to deal with increased shipping and return volume.
Despite many customers being more conscientious with their purchasing habits there are still those that will continue to practice bracketing. This is because the ability to try out products in person has almost completely diminished. Bracketing is the practice of purchasing comparable items in assorted colors and sizes to return those that do not fit or want. Augmented reality or virtual reality (AR/VR) has played a significant role in combating bracketing giving customers the ability to visualize items without being physically in the store.
Regardless, national returns week will bring an increased number of returns for retailers when compared to the rest of the year creating the necessity for a simple and quick returns process to retain customers and keep them satisfied.
Tips for a successful National Returns Week
No matter what your ecommerce business sells the chances of a customer making a return are high. Here are seven tips to make future returns weeks a success:
Evaluate last year’s return policy: Despite preparing for the holidays every year, chances are you will still learn something new. Analyze your returns policies – see which of them are helping and which are exacerbating problems. Then use this valuable information to update your return policy for next year to ensure that the process is smoother.
Create a holiday-specific return policy: Every ecommerce business has a return policy but consider making one that is specific to the holidays and addresses any situations that may arise during that period. Shipping delays and strain on the supply chain continue which was a primary reason for shoppers to begin buying gifts earlier this past year. A typical 30-day return policy may not be ideal for the holidays. An extended return period for customers during the holidays is more acceptable. In fact, Macy’s extended their holiday return period allowing for any items bought online or in store as of October 5th to be eligible for return until January 31st.
Make your return policy easy to find : Do not be afraid to place your return policy on your home and product pages. A return policy that is easy to find by being placed in high traffic areas of a retailer’s website and is easy to understand with concise language will cut down on issues later reducing the strain on customer service teams.
Collect return data: Once the returns begin coming in, collecting relevant data that you can use for the future is crucial to preparing for and improving returns in the coming years. Examples of data that would be beneficial are:
- Most returned items
- Common return reasons
- When you saw the most returns
Get your team on the same page: Once you have a plan for handling seasonal returns ensure that all departments and people on your team are on the same page. Customer service teams need to be well informed on return policies and able to answer any inquiries posed by shoppers.
FAQ page: Consider updating your FAQ page on your ecommerce site to address any questions regarding holiday returns. An easy to find knowledge base or FAQ page containing information about refunds and returns is greatly beneficial to holiday shoppers. You can also add this information as a response to common customer questions through a chatbot if your site uses them.
Offer free returns if possible: To retain customers and make the returns process as enjoyable as possible offer customers free returns. When making a purchase 41% of US shoppers state free returns are the principal factor of consideration. An easy return or refund process gives customers the confidence to make secondary purchases during the return process offsetting potential incurred losses and padding your ecommerce businesses profit margins.
As we are in middle of national returns week 2022 and it’s clearly not feasible to make extreme changes to your ecommerce return policy now. Collecting data and using it to prepare for the next holiday season would be a better use of your time. Hopefully, these tips will help give you an idea of what you can do to improve your returns process for both you and your customers.
The cycle of ecommerce is never-ending so there is no harm in planning ahead for national returns week 2023!