After the holiday excitement and the rush of retail customers and sales, store employees and managers aren’t able to simply relax and bask in the afterglow of the holiday spirit. Instead, they need to stay on their game – now comes the advancing tide of gift returns!

In fact, the Christmas gift return season is just as traditional as the holiday shopping season! Even the most thoughtful gifts can be a wrong match. So how do stores handle the sudden influx of return merchandise? The same way they deal with the extra customers during the holidays: preparation.

Getting Prepared For Holiday Retail Returns

The logistics of returning massive amounts of products to the shelves is both a logistical problem and a potential drain of financial resources.  Make sure you have enough employees to accommodate the manual work you will need, and create your holiday schedules well in advance so you can anticipate any staffing issues or other unexpected problems. Make sure your return policy is posted somewhere obvious where your customers can easily see it, like at the cash register or printed on your receipts.

Remember, just because a customer returns something doesn’t mean there is no chance for another sale. Train employees to ask the customers questions and listen to their complaints or comments about the product they are returning. Maybe there is an item on the floor that is just what they are looking for. Finally, be sure to take care of your employees and pay attention to overall morale. Don’t forget to tell your team that you appreciate the hard work they are putting in. A small show of appreciation can go a long way.

E-commerce Returns

When you run an e-commerce business, you know that returns are just part of the game. Online shopping is a boon to both customers and retailers, but online goods are simply more likely to be returned because the customer cannot inspect their purchase in person before buying. This means that it is especially important for online retailers to have well thought-out return policies. Even though returned merchandise can cause expense to any retailer, many customers have reported that they simply won’t consider buying from an online store that doesn’t offer free returns.

So what does this mean for the onslaught of holiday returns? First of all, make sure your return process works smoothly before the holiday season.  Settle on a return policy that makes sense for you, and make sure that policy is effectively communicated to your customers.  If you use shopping cart software, make sure that it is set up to easily handle returns. These programs can be really helpful here, and can make it much easier to track returns and keep accurate inventory counts.