Black Friday Returns Management – A Horrifying Prospect?
The real drama for Online Sellers will come in the days following the mega sales and fist fights, as consumers return a potentially incapacitating volume of purchases for retailers to deal with.
Industry experts predict that over £5billion of goods will be sold within the period of 24th to 28th November – but how many of these will be returned? And are retailers paying enough attention to returns processing?
It’s difficult to predict how Black Friday 2016 will compare to previous years, however, what we can say with certainty is that shoppers will turn to online and mobile platforms to make their purchases. Unlike America, where Black Friday encourages consumers to go out to physical shops to grab their bargains, UK retailers are focusing more and more on attracting consumers through their online platforms.
Fashion is particularly big in online and mobile shopping, and Black Friday will be no exception.
On average, of all online clothing purchases made, 40% are returned. So, for retailers to be the true winners this Black Friday, they must consider the scale of returns, which could add immeasurable pressure to their logistics operations, have a lasting effect on their customer relations and, ultimately, impact retailers’ bottom lines.
Returns processing has been amongst the Black Friday nightmares seen in the past few years – getting money back to customers, and ensuring stock levels are at the right level in time for the second wave of Christmas shopping has caused hell on earth for some retailers. Those that have learned from being close to collapse will be the leaders – both in profit margins and in customer service.
Certain items that will not be accepted back into prime stock – if retailers have prepared for returns, they will be able to approach this strategically, and will already have plans in place to make deals with this stock elsewhere, without writing the returns off.
A lot of consumers who will be shopping during the Black Friday sales are especially savvy. This means that when they are looking to purchase online, they will look at the returns policy before pressing the buy button. If retailers aren’t aware of this, they can lose strength in their position within the market; returns really do matter to consumers
By preparing with an easy and efficient returns policy for customers, and making this work as prescribed, retailers will be able to retain custom way beyond Black Friday. A clear policy will also help retailers forecast likely demand on returns, so they can prepare when it comes to stock levels and back end logistics.
We help retailers take an intelligent logistics approach to peak. If forecasting and planning has been backed up by a ready to rock IT infrastructure , ‘Black Fiveday’ should be a time for retailers to delight customers, improve their inventory for the festive period and rake in revenues.
There will be much debate and post-event analysis from retailers and across the industry once ‘Black Fiveday’ is done. But, by this point, retailers may already be feeling like they are playing a leading role in a horror film with no way out. Sadly, if you are reading this and can feel a sense of gloom encircling, it may already too late!