Tis the week after Christmas and all through the land, merchants have loads of returns on their hands. That’s especially true for online retailers, and as eCommerce sales continue to soar so do return volumes—posing a major challenge for merchants.

Christmas Returns

With that in mind—and peak return season underway—there’s no better time to revisit the “four Cs” of digital commerce returns to ensure your days stay merry and bright long after the holidays have ended.

To set the backdrop, here are some high-level statistics on peak shopping/returns season 2017-18:

  • Shoppers set a new record for dollars spent this holiday season as retail sales grew 4.9% year-over-year, according to a Mastercard SpendingPulse report.
  • Online sales rose 18.1% compared with holiday season 2016, the same report noted.
  • eCommerce returns could reach $32 billion this season—up about 14% year-over-year, according to commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE (via Internet Retailer).

Rapidly growing return volumes certainly present challenges, but—handled properly—they can also open up new opportunities to drive profitability. The key is keeping a close eye on those “four Cs”:

  1. Clarity – Clearly define your returns policy and make it easy to find on your site. By setting the expectation that consumers can easily return an order if necessary, you’ll make them more comfortable—and more likely to buy.
  2. Convenience – Returns are an inconvenience for consumers, but one you can minimize. Let them print return shipping labels at home or, better yet, provide prepaid labels. Work with a carrier that offers convenient locations for dropping off return packages—or even free home pickup, like the U.S. Postal Service.
  3. Consistency – Between shopping, purchasing and returning, there are so many customer touchpoints. Give consumers a consistent experience across all of them. For instance, when your customers track returns online or receive email updates on them, whose brand is front-and-center—yours or your carrier’s?
  4. Communication – Be proactive about communicating transit times and status updates. Besides reducing call center volumes, these communications can provide opportunities to market additional merchandise or deliver promotional offers that drive revenue.

Heeding these tips can lead to other terms that start with “c,” like customer loyalty, cross-selling and cost efficiency. To learn more about how return solutions from Newgistics can help grow your business—during peak season and throughout the year—please visit newgistics.com.