Retailers know December as the month of high sales and high profits as customers Christmas shopping is completed, but it can also be a month of disappointment for customers.
High value customers cause a wave of returns weeks before Christmas
From the first week of December, the majority of returns surprisingly come from loyal, high-value customers. This group causes a wave of returns weeks before Christmas and weeks before retailers would expect to see unwanted gifts come flooding back. This leaves retailers having to issue a large number of refunds as well as deal with the costs of processing returns. At this busy period retailers top priority will be getting online parcels out of the warehouse, not processing these returns. This means stock will sit idle, depreciating in value, and not being put back into the system for customers to buy - which can leave customers disappointed if they find the item they are looking for is ‘out of stock’.
Accounting for these losses from Christmas shopping returns is particularly important in the current economic climate. The BBC reported that UK retailers suffered drops in sales last December, even with an increase in online shopping. Also, these figures don’t take into account the mid-month spike in returns we have seen, or the Boxing Day returns rush.
Bringing customer service strategies from stores into the online environment would help convert returns into exchanges
The good news for retailers is that returns from loyal customers present an opportunity for customer service to save the day. Bringing customer service strategies from brick-and-mortar stores into the online environment would help convert these returns into exchanges, salvaging profits and enhancing the customer experience.
For more information on the impact of returns throughout the Christmas shopping period and the driving forces behind them you can download our whitepaper when it becomes available very soon or sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date.