Holiday Reverse Logistics Tips

Holiday returns are 3x higher for eCommerce. Discover how your online business can manage post-peak season returns without breaking the bank.

By:
Jason Chan
-
eCommerce Strategy
Holiday Fulfillment

The holidays are the busiest time of the year for eCommerce retailers. Although holidays are when many businesses reach the peak of their sales, this wonderful time of year also comes with many challenges. One of the biggest obstacles facing business owners is returns. Over one-third of holiday shoppers return gifts.  According to the National Retail Federation, in 2020 returns cost the retail industry about $101 billion.

We talked to several eCommerce retailers about the challenges of reverse logistics and what they are doing to prepare this holiday season.

Prevent Returns

The best way to prepare for returns this season is to create a plan that helps you prevent the bulk of them altogether. eCommerce returns are 3x higher than those for brick and mortar stores and can account for up to 30% of general sales. Even if your business does great in sales throughout the peak season, a heavy flow of returns can ruin your profit.

A co-founder of Olivers Apparel, David W., shared his thoughts about peak season returns and what business owners can do to help prevent them.

“One of the biggest challenges for the peak season is decreasing the number of returns. Store owners must provide as much product detail as possible to limit this. Most notably, store owners should be explicit about the product's fit, provide a guide for choosing the best product variant, and offer ample product imagery.”

David also recommends treating all incoming customers like new customers. Give them all the details they need to make a purchase and help them feel one-of-a-kind. He’s seen this tactic help reduce return rates and increase customer loyalty.

Related Article: Evaluating And Improving Your eCommerce Fulfillment and Holiday Shipping

Make the Process Simple

Every business experiences the struggles of returns. Shoppers can make purchases and then change their minds about their orders... Maybe they guessed the wrong size for the gift receiver... Maybe they no longer need that item at all! Whatever the reason may be, returns happen all year long. Holiday returns, however, can be the most overwhelming during an already stressful season. eCommerce Manager of Lucky Voice, Patrick F., shared his thoughts on how to make this returns process easier by using a shipping partner.

“When a customer contacts us, we provide instructions on how to return the product, which is tracked and delivered to our warehouse. Then, our 3PL provider inspects the returned items to ensure they are unused, and the packaging is undamaged. If the product is still in excellent condition, it is restocked. If the product has been used or is damaged, we use it as a spare part.”

Even if your business is not currently working with a 3PL, you can still focus on providing clear instructions to your customers and even offering incentives like free returns or delivery. These simple additions can make a big difference in how your customers view your business.

Related Article: How to Manage Holiday Returns

Focus on Your Customers

Customer support is extremely important when managing returns. If the process does not go well, you could lose that shopper forever. CEO of Namynot Inc, Serena G., shared her thoughts about the importance of creating a clear return policy for your customers and being available through the whole return process.

“In preparation for the upcoming peak season, we revisited our return policies to ensure they are fair for customers and ourselves. We do not want to over-promise nor under-deliver. We have also padded our shipping timing while enlightening customers of possible delays in shipping.”

To further improve your returns process, ensure that you have team members readily available to connect with customers. This includes responding to incoming inquiries and staying in communication with the customer during the returns process. These extra steps in communication can help improve your customer retention and your overall reputation. 

Reverse logistics can be the most difficult part of the holiday season for eCommerce retailers. It’s important to have a solid plan in place before the shopping season begins and the right partners to help you manage all incoming and outgoing orders. 

Don’t be plagued by last year’s holiday mistakes this season. Be confident in your shipping and fulfillment with Rakuten Super Logistics. Our peak season experts will help you ensure successful holiday sales and returns. Get a quote today!!


Rakuten Super Logistics (RSL) is the leader in eCommerce order fulfillment services and freight management. RSL offers national fulfillment services and a network of fulfillment centers across the US, including Anaheim (CA), Atlanta (GA), Austin (TX), Carlstadt (NJ) Chicago (IL), Denver (CO), Houston (TX), Las Vegas (NV), Olean (NY), Reno (NV), Salt Lake City (UT), and Scranton (PA). RSL's fulfillment system allows for integration with popular shopping cart platforms and online marketplaces including Amazon, BigCommerce, Channel Advisor, eBay, Magento, ShipStation, Shopify, Volusion, Walmart Marketplace, and WooCommerce.

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Rakuten Super Logistics is a leading eCommerce order fulfillment company that provides the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings retailers demand.

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