15 Strategies to Prepare for Managing Black Friday Returns
Rebecca Fox

November 8, 2023

As Black Friday approaches, it’s time to start preparing for the influx of returns. To ensure a smooth and efficient Black Friday returns process, plan out your return strategy in advance.

Start thinking about how your eCommerce store will manage Black Friday returns as efficiently as possible.

15 Strategies to Prepare for Black Friday Returns

Here are a few strategies that you can use to prepare your eCommerce store for Black Friday returns.

1. Adjust Your Return Policy

Your return policy is the first step in the return process and it is important to set the right expectations for customers. 44% of customers say that return policies influence what holiday gifts they purchase. 

Make sure your return policy is clear and concise, laying out the rules and procedures for returns. 

If you plan on altering your return policy for Black Friday, make sure the changes are in place well before the Black Friday sales spike, to avoid unnecessary friction among customers.

Black Friday sales generally lead to more returns, and you can reduce these returns or turn them into exchanges by setting up a special Black Friday return policy.

Here are some tips for creating an easy-to-follow holiday return policy:

  • Review your current return policy – Assess your existing return policy to identify necessary adjustments for the holiday season. Take into account any elements in your standard policy that may be problematic during the holiday rush.
  • Specify eligibility conditions – Clearly define which items are eligible for return and which are not during the holiday season. Make sure to note any exclusions, like clearance or customized items, that cannot be returned.
  • Define the return window – One of the primary features of a holiday return policy is extending the return window. Customers often make early holiday purchases, so provide them with a longer time frame to return items. We’ll discuss this in more detail later on in this article.
  • Provide clear instructions – Offer straightforward, step-by-step instructions on how to initiate a return or exchange and what to expect from the returns process. 
  • Outline the gift returns process – Clarify the process for gift returns, ensuring that gift recipients can return unwanted holiday gifts without notifying or involving the original gift purchaser.
  • Highlight special features – Emphasize any unique features of your holiday return policy, such as free shipping during the holiday season or an extended return window.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a holiday return policy that is specific to the holiday season. It’s a great way to meet the holiday rush head-on, providing customers with peace of mind and setting clear expectations.

2. Turn Refunds into Exchanges

A hassle-free exchange process is essential to keeping your customers happy. By prioritizing exchanges over refunds, you can save your store a lot of time and money. 

When a customer requests a refund, you lose the sale and often the customer too. Instead, try to offer an exchange. When a customer exchanges a product for another size, color, or another product altogether, you keep the sale as well as the customer. 

Offer quick and easy product exchanges, so your customers can get the items they need as soon as possible. 

Keep your exchange process as simple as possible to minimize returns and maximize your profits.

3. Offer Incentives on Exchanges

Offering incentives on product exchanges instead of refunds is a great way to keep customers happy and encourage them to do business with you again in the future. 

Exchanges boost brand loyalty by ensuring the right product reaches your customers, resulting in repeat purchases as well as increased customer lifetime value.

Incentivize customers to request an exchange instead of a refund by offering things like free shipping exclusively on exchanges, or a longer return window for exchanges.

Offering these incentives encourages customers to exchange their product instead of returning it for a refund. More exchanges mean reduced refund processing costs and more satisfied customers.

Use exchanges as a second chance to make a good first impression and build brand loyalty.

4. Extend the Return Window

Many eCommerce stores give a return window of 30 days, according to ReturnGO data. However, this length of return window can cause a problem for customers who go shopping for gifts on Black Friday in November to give away a month later at Christmas. By the time Christmas rolls around, the return window has passed and the gift recipient is stuck with a gift they may not want. 

To make your customers feel confident that they can buy gifts from your store, extend your return window during the holiday season. This way, if the gift recipient is not happy with their gift, they can return it without any hassle.

Consider offering an extended return window during the busy months. For example, Amazon’s holiday return deadline is January 31 for orders shipped between November 1 and December 31, which gives gift recipients plenty of time to return their holiday gifts.

By having a generous return window, you send a message that you are confident in your products and stand behind them. This builds customer trust and encourages them to shop with you again in the future.

5. Communicate Your Return Policy

It’s important to make your holiday return policy prominent and easy to find. Your holiday return policy should take center stage during the holiday shopping season, to set clear expectations for Black Friday shoppers. 

Use a visible button or place links in easy-to-find places, such as in your site’s footer, on the checkout page, and in emails to your customers.

Here are some ways to promote your holiday return policy:

  • Banner – Add a banner to your homepage that says “Extended Holiday Return Policy” and links to your return policy page.
  • Email marketing – Include a link to your return policy page in all of your holiday email marketing campaigns.
  • Social media – Create a social media post that highlights your extended return policy for the holidays.
  • Flyers – Include a flyer about your unique holiday return policy with each order you send out.
  • Order confirmation emails – Add a line to your order confirmation emails that says “Don’t forget about our extended holiday return policy!” and links to the return policy page.

The easier it is to find your holiday return policy, the better. Display your return policy in a way that’s impossible to miss.

6. Reward Loyal Customers

Black Friday is one of the best times to acquire new customers and reward loyal customers. With more people looking to shop on Black Friday, your store has the potential to reach a larger audience.

The key is to make sure new customers from Black Friday join your brand for the ride, and setting up a loyalty rewards program is a great way to do that. By offering exclusive deals and discounts to loyal customers, you’ll keep them coming back for more. 

Set up your loyalty program for success this Black Friday season:

1. Promote Your Loyalty Program

Inform both new and existing customers about your loyalty program during the Black Friday season. Use your website, email marketing, and social media to actively promote the program, and remind customers how it works, emphasizing the benefits and rewards they can get. 

2. Offer Welcome Points

Welcome points are a fantastic way to build customer loyalty. Provide new customers with a set of bonus points when they join your loyalty program. This gesture has a noticeable impact on customer loyalty, while also expanding your customer base as the news of this perk spreads.

3. Match Your Brand Style

Consistency is key. Ensure that all the elements of your loyalty program, such as the program colors, name, and VIP tiers, align with the overall branding of your store. This consistency helps reinforce your brand identity while also making the program more visually appealing and recognizable.

4. Display Your Loyalty Program

To increase participation in your loyalty program, make it easy for customers to find and understand. Clearly display your loyalty program, including a link in the header or footer, a pop-up on the homepage, and information in your email marketing campaigns, highlighting the benefits of the program and how to join.

5. Give Extra Black Friday Rewards

To sweeten the deal during the Black Friday season, offer extra rewards to your loyal customers. Give exclusive discounts, early access to Black Friday deals, or bonus points for their loyalty. Black Friday is all about getting a little something extra, and this strategy ensures your loyal customers feel valued and appreciated.

Use your loyalty program to reward your loyal customers and turn your one-time Black Friday customers into lifetime brand advocates.

7. Automate Your Returns

Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and having a streamlined, automated process for returns will save you time and money. Your team can focus on fulfilling orders and keeping your customers happy, without having to worry about the logistics of returns.

Managing the Black Friday return spike is easier with an automated returns management system such as ReturnGO. Using an automated returns system can boost customer satisfaction by making the return process faster and easier for both you and your customers, which is especially important around Black Friday. 

Automating your Black Friday returns can offer numerous advantages:

  • Efficiency – Automated processes drastically reduce the time needed to process returns during the holiday rush, ensuring quicker resolutions.
  • Cost savings –  By automating the return process, you significantly cut down on the labor and resource costs associated with manual returns handling.
  • Accuracy – Automation minimizes the risk of manual errors, ensuring returns are processed correctly and promptly.
  • Fewer queries – Less manual errors and quicker processing can reduce the number of customer support queries, saving time and resources.

By automating your returns process, you can more easily keep track of returns, process refunds, and keep your customers updated about the status of their returns, which is a valuable time-saver during the busy Black Friday season.

Chat with our experts to boost your customer return experience and LTV today.

8. Secure Your Inventory Levels

63% of customers prefer to do their holiday shopping online, so high post-holiday return volumes can have a considerable impact on eCommerce supply chains in particular.

To prepare for the influx of returns during the holiday season, it is important to secure your inventory levels. This means having enough inventory on hand to meet customer demand, while also being able to quickly process and restock returned products.

Give yourself time to make purchasing and production decisions. Plan ahead of time which products you’ll promote over Black Friday so that you can stock accordingly, which will help you avoid last-minute rush and make sure you have enough inventory to meet customer demand.

Then make sure to restock returned products as quickly as possible to get them back into circulation. 

ReturnGO’s smart inventory automation rules make it simple to update your inventory when items are returned, so you can maintain your inventory without any extra work.

9. Prepare a Black Friday Shipping and Returns Plan

In order to ensure a successful Black Friday, make sure you have a clear strategy in place for dealing with the increased volume of shipments and returns.

Your Black Friday shipping and returns plan should include everything you need to have set up for fulfillment, shipping, returns, return shipping, and restocking. Make sure you have the right providers and systems in place, and that everyone on your team is clear on how shipping and returns will work.

Keep in mind that there may be bottlenecks in logistics such as production or fulfillment. Make sure you plan for buffers and find alternate logistics companies and suppliers who will be available as backup. 

By having a detailed plan in place, you can provide a better Black Friday shopping experience for your customers and avoid potential bottlenecks or delays.

10. Use a 3PL to Manage Fulfillment

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t need to spend a lot of time overseeing how your products are received, distributed, and returned?

To make your returns process easier, outsource your reverse logistics to a company that specializes in transportation, handling, and restocking. These external logistics companies are called Third-Party Logistics providers (3PLs).

When using a 3PL you can make sure that returned products are processed and restocked or disposed of appropriately. This can save you time and money, and ensure that your customers will be satisfied with their return experience.

Using a 3PL is becoming an increasingly popular solution among eCommerce stores. In fact, 40% of retailers use a 3PL to handle returns.

ReturnGO integrates with various 3PLs such as Flexport to optimize your reverse logistics process and make sure returns are handled efficiently.

By entrusting your reverse logistics to a 3PL, you can free up your focus to take care of other areas this Black Friday.

11. Track Customer Return Data

Take a look back at last year’s Black Friday return data. This will give you a good starting point for preparing for this year’s Black Friday returns. 

Understanding the patterns of customer returns can help you make better decisions about things like inventory levels, products, and customer service strategies.

Look at data such as:

  • Total number of returns – Understanding the volume of returns from the previous year provides insight into the scale of returns you can expect this year. This can help you plan logistics and resource allocation.
  • Average return value – The average value of returned items can indicate which product categories or price ranges are more likely to be returned, helping you adjust your inventory and marketing strategies.
  • Common reasons for returns – Identify the most frequent reasons for returns, whether it’s sizing issues, product defects, or other factors, so you can address these pain points proactively this holiday season.

Taking a data-driven approach ensures that you are well-prepared to manage the unique challenges of Black Friday returns this year.

12. Make Returns Easy

Since after Black Friday there’s usually a spike in returns, it’s especially important to make it easy for customers to return items. 

92% of customers say they’ll buy again if the return process is easy. By making returning items fast and convenient, you can retain your customers and keep them coming back year after year.

How to make returns easy for customers:

  • Provide a clear return policy –  The first step in simplifying returns is to have a return policy that is not only straightforward but also easy to locate on your website. When customers can readily access and understand your return policy, it removes uncertainty and frustration, making them more likely to initiate returns when necessary.
  • Make the process easy to follow –  Customers should know exactly how to request a return or exchange, with every step clearly outlined. Provide a self-service return portal to streamline the process and make the return journey as hassle-free as possible. 
  • Extend the return window – Recognizing the unique nature of Black Friday purchases, extend the return window for items bought during this season. This offers customers more time to evaluate their purchases, reducing the urgency and stress that could otherwise be associated with returns.

By making returns easy for Black Friday customers, you’ll be sure to win their business – and their loyalty.

13. Send Cart Abandonment Emails

Online shopping cart abandonment rates are at a staggering 69.82% worldwide. By sending a reminder email to customers who have abandoned their shopping carts, you can boost sales and prevent returns.

Cart abandonment emails are an effective way to win back customers who may have been distracted or simply changed their minds about a purchase. By offering a discount or incentive, you can encourage customers to complete their purchases.

You can use email marketing software to automate your cart abandonment emails. This will allow you to send emails to customers who abandon their carts without having to manually send each email yourself.

Here are some tips for sending effective cart abandonment emails on Black Friday:

  • Highlight the urgency of the situation – Let customers know that your Black Friday deals are only available for a limited time and that they need to complete their purchase soon to take advantage of the savings.
  • Use social proof – Show customers that other people are buying the items they left in their carts. You can do this by including testimonials from past customers or by showing the number of people who have added the items to their carts.
  • Make it easy for customers to contact you – If customers have any questions or problems, make it easy for them to contact you for help. Include a phone number, email address, or live chat link in your email.

By following these tips, you can send effective cart abandonment emails that will help you boost sales and prevent returns this Black Friday.

14. Use Returns as a Marketing Strategy

This Black Friday, use returns as a marketing strategy to promote your store. By offering customers a hassle-free return process, you can attract customers who might otherwise be hesitant to shop online. 

In addition to attracting new customers, using returns as a marketing strategy can also reinforce the loyalty of existing customers. It demonstrates your dedication to providing a positive shopping experience, a message that customers appreciate. This proactive approach can make your store their preferred choice for Black Friday and beyond.

15. Build a Black Friday eCommerce Strategy

Reducing your Black Friday return rate starts with having a good strategy in place for your eCommerce store. By planning ahead and being prepared, you can make sure everything runs smoothly when Black Friday arrives.

To maximize your Black Friday eCommerce strategy, follow these tips:

1. Plan Ahead and Start Early 

Get a jump on the competition by starting to promote your Black Friday deals well in advance, giving you time to build anticipation and excitement among your customers. You can even start promoting your deals as early as September or October.

2. Prepare Your Website

Your website serves as the hub of Black Friday activity. Make sure it can handle the anticipated surge in traffic and orders. This includes optimizing loading times, securing your site against potential cyber threats, and implementing user-friendly navigation to enhance the customer experience.

3. Promote, Promote, Promote 

Use all of your marketing channels to promote your Black Friday deals, including email marketing, social media marketing, paid advertising, and influencer marketing.

4. Offer Discounts and Incentives 

Offer discounts and incentives to encourage people to shop from your store on Black Friday. This could include offering free shipping, percentage discounts, or buy-one-get-one-free deals.

5. Provide Excellent Customer Service 

On Black Friday, it is more important than ever to provide excellent customer service. This means being responsive to customer inquiries, resolving any issues quickly and efficiently, and providing a positive shopping experience overall.

Prepare for Black Friday by developing an effective eCommerce strategy and implementing it ahead of time.

Get Ready for the Black Friday Returns Rush

Get ready for Black Friday by creating a plan to make the returns process as simple and painless as possible for both you and your customers. Use ReturnGO to streamline your Black Friday returns and exchanges this year.

With the right strategies for managing Black Friday returns, you can keep your customers happy and your business running smoothly during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

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Streamline your return process and ensure a great post-purchase experience for your customers.