Hard to believe, and yet peak trading time for retail is almost upon us again. And we know that despite all the talk of Black Friday ‘creep’ and customer apathy, Black Friday is still going to be one of the biggest days on the retail calendar for most.
This year we can expect the trend of increased shopping online to continue over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Much more convenience for customers, and less chaos, crowds and mayhem, for retailers and customers alike.
In preparation for the surge in online traffic, a lot of effort will be directed to ensuring speedy website loading time (ideally, no more than 3 seconds), efficient checkout process, promotional stock availability, prompt dispatch of orders etc. All efforts directed towards optimising conversion rates and customer satisfaction.
However, with high sales come high customer returns, and many retailers receive a deluge of returns at the worst possible time – when peak trading is over. But there are some steps that can be taken to minimise these:-
- Identify the products which should not be included in a Black Friday promotion. Womenswear in the UK, for example, has returns rates around 30%, but some categories of womenswear return at 60% of sales or more. Occasion-wear such as cocktail/party dresses, is one such category, and is already a popular seller pre-Christmas. Retailers really do not want these sitting on a customer’s bedroom floor for 30 days and arriving back as a return in January when these lines are marked down to clear.
- Select affiliates carefully and reward them on sales net of returns. Affiliate marketing ranks high on the channels driving returns.
- Don’t lead with returns. Instead of placing a prominent returns label at the top of the package, consider how an additional offer/incentive might attract customers into the store instead.
- Household goods and gadgets sold particularly well last year, but return of electrical goods, in particular, incur high costs for the retailer. To reduce the likelihood of a return, based on the customer finding it too complicated to set up, or believing there to be a fault, follow up with a personalised email encouraging customers to connect via live chat or a call centre, if they encounter a problem.
- Limited stock should be promoted to ‘keepers’. Segmenting customers based on their shopping and returns behaviour, allows retailers to target their most valuable customers and keeps limited stock/high-returning categories away from ‘serial returners’.
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