7 Tips to Prepare for Handling Christmas Holiday Returns
Rebecca Fox

March 12, 2023

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to prepare for handling the influx of holiday returns that come with it. 

In order to keep customers coming back, provide a simple and straightforward Christmas holiday return process. A positive return experience will improve customer loyalty, repeat business, and may lead to after-season purchases.

Make your post-holiday return process as smooth and painless as possible by planning ahead.

7 Tips for Preparing for the Holiday Returns Rush

In 2021, US holiday eCommerce sales grew 10.4% year over year (YoY) to $204.20 billion. Increased sales lead to increased returns. The more returns your business receives, the more efficient your return process will have to be to keep up with the spike in returns.

Here are a few things you can do to prepare for the holiday return rush:

1. Take Proactive Steps to Manage Holiday Returns

Take proactive steps to manage holiday returns to avoid being overwhelmed by the increased volume of returns after the holidays.

Here are a few proactive steps you can take to manage your Christmas returns more efficiently:

  • Have a clear return policy in place. 

Make sure your customers know what your policy is before they make a purchase.

  • Make it easy for customers to return items. 

Provide a pre-paid shipping label or offer free return shipping.

  • Process returns quickly. 

Create a system for processing returns quickly and efficiently. 

  • Improve your customer experience. 

Take the time to understand why customers are returning items and make changes accordingly.

By taking these steps well in advance of the holidays, you can minimize the impact of holiday returns and avoid last-minute stress.

2. Create an Effective Holiday Return Policy

It’s important to have a well-thought-out holiday return policy in place, as 44% of customers say that return policies influence what holiday gifts they purchase. 

By being upfront and honest with your customers about your policy, you can avoid any confusion or frustration down the line, ensuring that customers are satisfied with their purchase and that your business runs smoothly.

Here are a few tips to create an effective holiday return policy:

  • Keep it clear and concise.

Use clear and concise language when writing your holiday return policy to make it easy to understand.

  • Set realistic expectations.

Promise only what you can deliver, and be generous with your return policy to keep customers coming back.

  • Be flexible.

Make your holiday return policy flexible to allow for gift returns. 

Make sure your customers can easily find your holiday return policy by prominently displaying it on your store website. Make sure to highlight any special policy rules for the holidays.

Create a clearly-defined return policy to keep things running smoothly during the holiday season.

3. Provide an Easy Gift Returns Process

When it comes to gift returns, the process should be easy and effortless for both the gift giver and the recipient. No one likes the hassle of returning a gift, so make it as easy as possible for everyone involved.

All too often, people are stuck with gifts that they do not want or cannot use. The global gift market is expected to reach around $68.5 billion by 2024, and eCommerce holiday return rates are about twice as high as the rest of the year. 

Gift returns are an anticipated part of the holiday season, which is why it is so important to have an easy gift return process in place.

By making the gift return process easy and convenient, you will take the hassle out of gift-giving and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

4. Offer an Extended Return Window for the Holidays

‘Tis the season of giving, and what better way to show your customers that you care than by offering them an extended return window for purchases made during the holiday season?

When creating a holiday return policy, be sure to take into account the fact that some customers may be purchasing gifts well in advance of Christmas. A return policy that allows for a 30-day return window may not be sufficient. 

Instead, create a more lenient holiday return policy for the holidays, with a 60- or 90-day return window. This will give gift recipients plenty of time to return items.

For example, Amazon’s holiday return deadline is January 31 for orders shipped between October 11 and December 25, providing plenty of time for gift recipients to issue gift returns.

An extended holiday return window shows that you are confident in the quality of your products, and also gives your customers the peace of mind that comes with knowing their gift recipients can return an item if it’s not quite what they were looking for.

5. Provide a Self-Service Returns Process

This holiday season, simplify your return process by offering self-service returns. Provide a self-service return portal so that customers can easily request a return, explain why they’re returning the item, and receive a refund or exchange – all without having to contact customer support.

Self-service returns enable customers to initiate and track their own returns, which reduces the amount of time and resources required to process returns, and makes the customers feel in control of the process.

If you have a return process that’s easy to navigate, customers are much more likely to exchange items rather than ask for refunds. 

The holiday return season can be a busy time for your customer support team, with an exceptionally large amount of return requests coming in. Handling each return request manually can lead to delays in processing returns, and a poor return experience for customers.

A self-service return portal makes the returns process as easy as possible both for you and your customers, and takes a load off your team, freeing them up to focus on other tasks.

6. Encourage Exchanges Over Refunds

Encourage customers to exchange products instead of asking for refunds. 

An easy exchange process is key for keeping customers happy and encouraging them to shop with you again in the future. By making it simple and easy for customers to swap out their purchased items for something else, you’ll build their trust and loyalty. 

Exchanges also present a great opportunity to increase order value by upselling or cross-selling. By making it easy to exchange items, you can keep your customers happy and reduce the number of refunds you have to process.

Providing coupons, discounts, or free shipping on exchanges can help you incentivize customers to request exchanges instead of refunds.

Easy exchanges promote brand loyalty by ensuring the right product reaches customers, resulting in repeat purchases and increased customer lifetime value.

7. Automate Your Returns Process

An automated returns solution like ReturnGO can help your store streamline the return process and improve the customer experience. 

By eliminating lengthy, manual return processes during the holidays, you can turn returns from a point of friction into a positive experience that boosts customer satisfaction.

An automated return solution enables customers to request returns or exchanges without needing to speak to customer support. Automatically encourage exchanges, enforce your return policy, and approve or reject returns as needed. This makes it easy to keep track of returns and make sure that your policy is being followed.

An automated returns management system like ReturnGO is the perfect solution for managing your returns. ReturnGO is designed to integrate seamlessly with all the other tools your business uses, such as helpdesks, 3PLs, and ERPs. 

Automating your returns process makes managing your returns a breeze, freeing you up to focus on other aspects of your business.

  • Manage all your return requests in one place.
  • Sync your Shopify store to automatically update inventory levels whenever a return is made.
  • Enable customers to choose between exchanges, store credit, and refunds.
  • Track return trends using in-depth analytics.

When it comes to managing your Christmas returns, automating your returns process is a must. By automating your returns in time for the holidays, you can free up valuable time and resources and keep your business running smoothly.

Streamline Your Holiday Returns

Plan ahead and streamline your eCommerce return process to make handling Christmas holiday returns easy.

A few simple steps like updating your return policy and automating your return process can make a real difference in the efficiency of your Christmas returns.

While returns may be inevitable during the holiday season, by planning ahead you can make the return process less stressful for you and your customers.

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