15 Strategies to Prepare for Managing Black Friday Returns

November 8, 2022
| by Rebecca Fox

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. 

Your return policy should be 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:

  • Make it clear up front which items are eligible for return and which are not. 
  • Offer flexible exchange options as part of your return policy.
  • Provide clear and concise instructions on how to request a return.

2. Turn Refunds into Exchanges

A hassle-free exchange process is essential to keeping your customers happy. By prioritizing exchanges over other types of returns, you can save your store 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 coupons, discounts, or free shipping exclusively on 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 15-30 days. 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 30-day 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 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

Make sure your return policy is prominently displayed on your website and in any email correspondence with customers. If you have any changes to your return policy for Black Friday, be sure to highlight those as well. 

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.

The easier it is to find your return policy, the better. Display your 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 or remind customers that you have a loyalty program and how it works.

2. Offer Welcome Points

Build customer loyalty and increase your customer base by offering welcome points.

3. Match Your Brand Style

Set your loyalty program colors, name, and VIP tiers to match the rest of your brand.

4. Display Your Loyalty Program

Clearly display your loyalty program on your site to increase participation.

5. Give Extra Black Friday Rewards

Offer extra reward opportunities for Black Friday – everybody loves getting a little something extra.

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 returns can benefit your business in many ways:

  • Reducing the time it takes to process returns
  • Lowering the costs of processing returns
  • Increasing accuracy due to fewer manual errors
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction
  • Minimizing the number of customer support queries

An automated returns process can help you 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.

8. Secure Your Inventory Levels

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.

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

ReturnGO’s 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 plan 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 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 shipping and returns 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 automatically generate return shipping labels, track return shipments, and 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 Deliverr 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 tracking returns this year. 

Look at metrics such as the total number of returns, the average return value, and the most common reasons for returns. This information will help you to set up systems and processes to track returns more effectively this year. 

By understanding the patterns of customer returns, you can make better decisions about stocking levels, product selection, and customer service.

12. 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, consider the following tips:

1. Plan Ahead and Start Early 

Get a jump on the competition by starting to promote your Black Friday deals well in advance.

2. Prepare Your Website

Make sure your website is ready and can handle the increased traffic and orders on Black Friday.

3. Promote, Promote, Promote 

Use all of your marketing channels to promote your Black Friday deals.

4. Offer Discounts and Incentives 

Offer discounts and incentives to encourage people to shop from your store on Black Friday.

5. Provide Excellent Customer Service 

Ensure your customer service is up to par to provide a positive shopping experience for your customers on Black Friday.

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

13. Make Returns Easy

After Black Friday, there is usually a spike in returns, so 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:

1. Have a return policy that is easy to find and understand. 

2. Provide clear instructions and a streamlined return process. 

3. Extend the return window for Black Friday purchases.

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

14. 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.

Sending cart abandonment emails is a great way to boost sales and prevent returns this Black Friday. Make sure your email marketing strategy is set up accordingly.

15. 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 and retain existing customers. 

Clearly display your return policy on your website and in any ads or emails you send out. Highlight any special features in your return policy for Black Friday, and make sure your return process is easy to understand and follow. 

Use returns as a way to let your customers know that you’re making it easy for them to shop with you this Black Friday.

Perfect Your Black Friday eCommerce Strategy

Black Friday can be a busy time for returns. 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 these 15 strategies for managing Black Friday returns to keep your customers happy and your business running smoothly during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

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