The post-holiday returns can present several challenges and issues for ecommerce sellers. Lost revenue from returned merchandise after the holidays is a big problem in ecommerce for a few reasons: online shoppers may not fully understand the details of your product; holiday sales can capture consumers in the moment, who then have buyer’s’ remorse after they receive the product; sales are often for gifts, and gifts have a greater likelihood of being returned after the holidays for multiple reasons.
The holiday season is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative times of the year for many ecommerce businesses. However, it also brings with it a surge in returns due to gift exchanges, sizing issues, and buyer’s remorse.
As a mid-sized ecommerce product business, handling returned merchandise efficiently and effectively is crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction and maximizing profits. These valuable strategies will help you process holiday returns efficiently so you’re not losing revenue on this difficult aspect of your supply chain.
Streamline and Clarify Your Return Process
Before delving into the options for managing returned merchandise, it’s essential to establish a streamlined return process. Here are a few actions to take.
- Create a clear and customer-friendly return policy.
- Educate your customers about your return policy before they purchase.
- Set up simple ways for your customers to initiate returns online.
- Create dedicated customer service channels and hire an excellent team to manage them.
By making the process efficient and straightforward, you can encourage more customers to follow your return procedures and potentially reduce the overall number of returns.
Inspect and Sort Returned Items Quickly
Upon receiving returned merchandise, invest time and effort in thoroughly inspecting each item. Separate products into categories based on their condition, ensuring a clear distinction between items that are still sellable, those that require minor refurbishment, and those that are damaged beyond repair.
Your receiving team will be the heroes of the returns program, make sure they are clear on all return procedures. Execute tests if you have any new items, bundles, or specialty products going out during the holiday sales.
This sorting process lays the groundwork for the subsequent steps and helps you make informed decisions about the fate of each returned product.
Resell Still Sellable Items
Returned items in pristine or near-mint condition can be resold at their original prices. To do this effectively, you might want to consider reintroducing these products during post-holiday sales or flash promotions.
This is where your marketing and operations teams need to sync, because a targeted campaign for these last-minute items will have to be put into motion quickly. You’ll need to give consumers a sense of urgency and boost the chances of successfully selling these items.
Refurbish and Recondition
Returned items with minor defects or wear and tear can often be refurbished to restore their original condition. Depending on the nature of the products, this could involve simple repairs, cleaning, or replacing damaged components.
Implementing a refurbishment program can add value to these items and make them suitable for resale at a discounted price. By marketing them as “certified refurbished” or “like new,” you can target budget-conscious customers who might be hesitant to buy brand new products at full price.
Liquidate Slow-Moving Inventory
If you find yourself with a significant number of returned items that are challenging to resell, consider liquidation. Liquidation allows you to sell off excess or slow-moving inventory to third-party buyers, often at discounted rates.
While liquidating merchandise might result in a loss, it can free up valuable warehouse space, generate some revenue, and provide an opportunity to reinvest in more popular products or upcoming trends.
Donate or Recycle Unsellable Items
For items that are damaged beyond repair or unsellable (consumer packaged goods, or personal care products), consider donating them to charitable organizations. Donating merchandise not only supports worthy causes but also fosters a positive image for your business.
Alternatively, you can explore recycling options for certain products to minimize environmental impact and contribute to sustainable practices.
Create a Clearance Section
If you have a substantial number of returned items that are in good condition but might not align with your current product offerings, consider creating a dedicated clearance section on your website. Label these items as “open-box” or “final sale” and offer them at deeply discounted prices. This section can attract bargain hunters and deal-seekers, allowing you to recoup some revenue from products that might have otherwise gone unsold.
Managing returned merchandise after holiday sales is a critical aspect of running a successful mid-sized ecommerce business. By streamlining your return processes, inspecting and sorting returned items, and implementing various strategies such as reselling, refurbishing, liquidating, donating, or creating a clearance section, you can optimize the value of returned merchandise and minimize potential losses.
A well-executed post-holiday return management plan not only benefits your bottom line but also enhances customer satisfaction and strengthens your brand reputation in the long run.