Warehouse manager sorting returned items

Prep Your Returns Process for the Holidays [Checklist]

With the 2021 holiday shopping season underway, it’s time to make sure your returns solution and process can accommodate the increased order volume many industry pundits are predicting—likely a 7% and 9% increase in 2021, with e-commerce sales specifically growing by 11-15%.

Since increased sales may lead to more returns, the retailers that are prepared with best-in-class return policies and processes will come out ahead in today’s competitive e-commerce marketplace. Use the following checklists to update everything from your return policy itself to the way you communicate it to your customers.

Update your return policy

When was the last time you took a close look at your company’s return policy? If it’s been a while, review it now to ensure it’s capable of supporting a potential increase in holiday order volume. For instance, if you’ve promised to issue refunds within 2-3 business days, can you still guarantee that if your return volume increases significantly?

Even if you have updated your return policy recently, it never hurts to take another look. Increasingly, we’re seeing retailers differentiate themselves through segmented return policies that offer VIP-level service to specific customers. If your return policy hasn’t kept pace, you risk losing business to companies with more customer-friendly approaches.

If you’re a Narvar Return customer, once you’ve updated your policy, you’ll want to fully implement it: 

  • Communicate any return eligibility or processing time changes to Narvar to reflect policy updates. 
  • Update the Narvar Return login page on your site to clearly explain these changes to shoppers. 
  • Emphasize policy changes on your website. Rather than just updating your policy text, it may be helpful to use header banners, bold text, larger font sizes, or other visual call-outs to make sure former customers are aware of new changes to your return policy. 
  • Add any other communication that will be helpful to your customers throughout your Return UI. 
  • Update your Outbound Delivered email to include your new return policy content. 

One additional courtesy you may decide to extend to shoppers during the 2021 holiday season is an extension of your return window. Narvar’s 2021 Returns Benchmarks Report found that a 30-day return window is standard for Fortune 50, omnichannel, and direct-to-consumer (D2C) retailers. 

However, supply chain challenges and shipment delays are expected to affect this year’s holiday shopping. Temporarily extending your return window may give customers more confidence that they’ll have ample time to receive, test, and ultimately decide whether or not to return their goods to you. Just be sure to reset your policy after the holiday season if you don’t intend to keep these and other changes long-term. If you’re a Narvar Return customer, you’ll be able to set up these temporary rules for your portal to apply only during the holidays and expire automatically — you’ll just need to update the text on your policy page.

Communicate your changes

In addition to taking the steps described above, the following recommendations can help you maximize engagement and positive communications throughout the returns journey: 

  • Use Narvar Return’s confirmation email to add further clarity around estimated return processing and time to refund. 
  • Update your Narvar Return tracking pages with estimated refund processing times. 
  • Add a Return in Transit or Return Delivered email to your return sequence to reduce the number of ‘Where is my return?’ (WISMR) calls you receive from customers.

Improve choice and flexibility for consumers

Beyond updating your return policy, look for ways to make shoppers’ lives easier this holiday season. Increased vaccination rates and a strong desire to ‘get back to normal’ mean that many consumers will be returning to busy holiday travel schedules this year. Provide them with extra flexibility during the holiday hustle and bustle:

  • Issue QR codes for returns that allow customers to access hassle-free boxless and printerless returns through Narvar Return. 
  • Allow customers to drop their returns at local drop-off points using Narvar Concierge
  • Include convenient in-store drop-offs as a return method to drive increased post-holiday season footfall in your retail outlets.

Get creative with holiday content

Finally, returns processing may seem dry, but there are plenty of ways you can delight customers and drive a greater ROI by extending seasonal content into your Narvar UI. For example, you could: 

  • Integrate a seasonal design asset into your Narvar Return landing pages. 
  • Add a seasonal variation of your company’s logo to your website and your Narvar UI. 
  • Introduce a “Gifts” category to your website’s navigation bar (just make sure any holiday-specific return policies you’ve implemented are clearly visible on this page).

The 2021 holiday shopping season is shaping up to be a notable one for retailers and consumers alike. Get ahead of the game now by taking the time to revisit your return policy, updating it to reflect current circumstances, and identifying opportunities to delight your shoppers through holiday-specific content.  

Shraddha Bhatt

Shraddha is a product marketer with broad expertise across ecommerce, technology, retail, international trade, financial services, media and advertising.

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