Let’s Talk Business for December 29, 2023

You hate to see it coming—a customer with your bag in hand. You know where that’s headed. No matter how helpful you were or how great your products are, the holiday season isn’t a holiday without a wave of gift returns and exchanges. While it’s easy to view these transactions as inconveniences, savvy businesses recognize the untapped potential these transactions hold. There’s an art to handling gift returns and these strategies will help you transform them into valuable opportunities for building customer loyalty and business growth.

A return is not a personal attack. But it is a way to create an army of loyal customers. While you want to safeguard against fraud and theft returns, taking the pain out of returns may cause people to buy from you in the future. Costco and Nordstrom have loyal followings because of their liberal return policies.

This week and next I’ll share are a few tips to ensure your policies are just as beguiling.

The first step in mastering gift returns is to ensure that the process is as smooth and hassle-free as possible. Simplify your return policy, clearly communicate it to customers, and invest in user-friendly return systems. An easy return experience fosters customer trust and sets the stage for positive interactions.

Encourage customers to consider exchanges rather than outright returns. Create incentives, such as limited-time discounts or exclusive offers, to motivate customers to explore alternative products. Turning returns into exchanges not only retains revenue but also introduces customers to a broader range of your offerings.

Offer exclusive promotions or discounts for customers returning gifts. This not only turns a potentially negative experience into a positive one but also demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction. Additionally, you can incentivize them to upgrade to a higher-priced product by offering a discount or bundle deal. This can increase your average order value.

Consider bundling returned items with complementary products to create attractive package deals. You can even give the packages funny names for “bad” gift givers to attract attention such as “I told him I hated orange” or “Next year I’m giving him coal.” Use this approach in your in-store signage as well. Levity helps brighten the mood around a return.

Use gift returns as an opportunity to gather valuable feedback. Implement surveys (at the register with QR codes) or ask customers for input during the return process. Understanding the reasons behind returns can provide insights into product issues, customer preferences, and areas for improvement, helping you refine your offerings.

All of us here at the Emporia Chamber and Visit Emporia wish you a prosperous and successful New Year in 2024. We’re here for you!

The Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce offers many resources to help you start, run, and grow your business–including our annual Leadership Emporia Academy, monthly Group Lunches, Ribbon Cuttings, Business After Hours events, Legislative Dialogues, and more. Stop by the Trusler Business Center at 719 Commercial St., call 620-342-1600, or visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org to learn more.

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“Let’s Talk Business” is a weekly column of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Emporia. The mission of the Chamber is to be proactive in creating an environment for business and community success, guided by the vision that positive attitudes promote positive actions. Contact us at 620-342-1600 or chamber@emporiakschamber.org and visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org.