2021 U.S. Holiday Shopping Season: The Pandemic & Effects on Ecommerce Returns

 In Ecommerce, Post-Purchase, Product Returns

Holiday shopping season has already kicked off and capitalism’s favorite days of the year are upon us with Cyber Monday and Black Friday only a week away. Even with lock-down restrictions eased and a small sense of normalcy returning to daily life the effects of the pandemic are still being strongly felt in ecommerce and supply chains worldwide.

Lesson Learned?

Last holiday, manufacturers, suppliers, warehouses and ecommerce retailers learned a valuable lesson: The pandemic created the need to hold larger supply of products and a larger work force to meet the explosive growth of online sales.

Despite being armed with this knowledge and massive changes across the industry online sales growth is outpacing logistical capacity. According to eMarketer.com, ecommerce sales will climb 14.4% to $211.66 billion; up significantly from 2020.

With incredible growth of sales also comes a large increase in returns. In a recent survey, 60% of shoppers stated they planned on buying more product than they intend on keeping. Bracketing continues to be a common practice as customers plan on buying multiples of the same item and sending back those that do not fit.

Hassle-free Returns Needed for Success

Navigating the murky waters of the holiday shopping season will require that your ecommerce business has a hassle-free returns policy to handle the massive number of sales expected and to retain customers after the initial holiday purchase.

Easy to understand policies, accessible drop-off locations, precise product descriptions and exceptional customer support delivered through an ecommerce shipping software solution will assist in locking in buyers and managing record returns post-peak.

Integrating an inventory management system (IMMs) to your existing sales channels is key to seamless returns — allowing customers to initiate their own returns and check shipping status will speed up the entire process and enable your business to keep track of available stock.

Get it Right

Get the returns experience right the first time and 92% of customers say they’ll return to make a purchase again. Retaining customers is far cheaper than finding new ones for all of the obvious reasons.

Out of those shoppers that make a return more than 3 in 4 (77%) are likely to make an additional purchase according to the National Retail Federation. These purchases will offset your return costs and pad your companies bottom-line.

Customer Expectations in a Returns Experience

Flexibility and free returns are what shoppers want and expect when it comes to an online returns experience. The flexibility of being able to return items up to 30-45 days after purchase and the ability to return items for free signals to shoppers, they can get their money back as easy as they spend it. The knowledge of this empowers customers to spend more.

Transparency is key. Updating the customer on the progress of their return enforces a sense of confidence in your ecommerce business. Updates can come in various forms from email to SMS and social media applications such as Facebook messenger. Ideally, the use of SMS and messenger is best. SMS messages are 98% more likely to be opened compared to only 20% for emails.

Final Thoughts

A seamless, hassle-free and transparent returns process provided by an ecommerce shipping software solution will enable your business to fair any storms the holiday shopping season can muster. Unpredictability is the only thing predictable when it comes to ecommerce and logistics in this post-pandemic world.

Having a team of logistic specialists available 24/7 from an ecommerce shipping software solution, that will on-board your company with all of the tools and services needed to keep your business running smoothly and efficiently will enable you and your team to face the holidays with

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