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How Can Retailers Minimize Returns


t’s that time of year again. Holiday shopping is in full effect. However, it looks a little different this year. As customers continue to adjust their shopping behavior to maintain social distancing and avoid large crowds, online shopping is reaching new heights. Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday set records for online shopping, according to Adobe. Online spending rose nearly 22% year-over-year to $5.1 billion on Thanksgiving Day. On Black Friday, online spending reached $9 billion. Cyber Monday spending rose 15.1% year-over-year reaching $10.8 billion, setting a record for the largest U.S. internet shopping day ever.

This year’s online shopping surge means a rush of returns in the new year. There will be about $280 billion worth of returns this holiday season, according to Salesforce estimates, as online shoppers don’t have the luxury of trying on clothes, testing products, or asking associates for help before making purchases. Managing returns can be a hassle for customers and retailers. Optimizing the returns process is key to maintaining profitability and increasing customer loyalty, as 89% of shoppers are less likely to stick with brands after a bad return experience, according to Optoro.

Here’s a look at some ways retailers can minimize the post-holiday rush of returns, and provide a safe and convenient returns experience for customers.

Keep a Detailed and Accurate Website

Whether it’s the wrong size or a different fit, buying clothes online can be a gamble. Since returns are inevitable, let customers start the returns process on their website to minimize the amount of time they spend in-store. To reduce returns, retailers can also prioritize their inventory’s bestsellers on their websites and drop items that tend to be returned. Managing customer expectations with detailed product data like dimensions and apparel sizes can help shoppers know exactly what they’re buying. Descriptive websites and product pages will ensure customers are well-informed about what they are buying and reduce the likelihood of returns. 

how can retailers minimize returns
Offer in-store promotions to persuade customers to return items to stores and buy new ones in the process.

Incentivize Customers to Return Items to Stores

Some customers are understandable anxious about returning to stores. Make them feel more comfortable with a safe and easy returns process. Offering customers the option to return online and drop off items in-store or curbside makes the curbside dropoff quicker. This would also provide shoppers with a socially distanced and safe option to return merchandise and get their money faster than they would if they used return shipping. Shoppers who visit stores to make a return might see something else they want to buy. Offer in-store promotions to further persuade customers to return items to stores. 

Implement Contactless Returns Pickup

Working from home? Managing Zoom school? Leaving the house to make a return might be too unrealistic or inconvenient for some shoppers. For those customers that can’t make it to the store, offer a convenient alternative by implementing contactless returns pickup. Retailers can save time and money by coordinating the service with their delivery operations and operating them simultaneously. As customers wait for their refund, provide returns tracking and accurate timeframes to ease their peace of mind and increase customer satisfaction. 

Return volumes have climbed along with online sales. Managing returns is a big challenge for retailers. Providing customers with detailed product information and offering clear and flexible return policies is a critical part of keeping shoppers happy. Create a simple and seamless returns operation that protects the health of both store associates and customers to minimize friction and maximize customer satisfaction in your returns management process.

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