BBB Business Advice for Tackling Holiday Gift Returns

August 08, 2012

While most retailers love the holidays and the increased sales of the last quarter, no one looks forward to the dreaded post-holiday gift returns. To help businesses prepare for gift returns this holiday season, Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides a few tips on developing and communicating return policies.

The majority of consumers are satisfied with return policies. According to the 2010 Holiday Returns Survey by the National Retail Federation, nine out of 10 Americans (88.4 percent) say they find stores’ return policies to be fair.

“Retailers should keep customers in mind when it comes to return policies,” said Matthew Fehling, BBB President/CEO. “While it’s important that a return policy doesn’t hurt the business, it’s also critical that it doesn’t completely discourage and penalize the customer.”

BBB recommends businesses consider the following when creating, solidifying or simplifying their return policy for year round customer service:

Effectively communicate the return policy. Make sure customers are aware of the policy by displaying the policy in prominent places such as the checkout counter, on receipts and on websites.

Provide gift receipts. Six out of 10 shoppers say they include a gift receipt with a gift, so be sure to offer one at time of purchase.

Encourage customers to return the merchandise unused, unworn or unwrapped. Everyone likes getting merchandise in its original packaging and encouraging customers to return goods in this condition, will increase the chances that the product can be resold.

Make online returns easy. Lay out the return rules clearly. Explain who pays for return shipping, where the return needs to be sent, and specify any forms or mailing labels that need to be used.

Have visible signage in the store pointing consumers where to go to process a return.

Remain calm and helpful. The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, and making returns is usually not high on a customer’s list of fun things to do. When working with a customer, always approach a return with a smile. If their experience is good, they are likely to come back.

About BBB Serving Central, Northern & Western Arizona

BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Incorporated locally in 1938, today your BBB serves communities in Central, Northern and Western Arizona, supported by over 9,400 BBB Accredited Businesses. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Business ReviewsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.