You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

3 Tips to Reduce Cyber Monday Returns Returns are synonymous with the holiday season for a variety of reasons, but with effective preparation retailers can avoid unnecessary collateral damage to their bottom line.

By Peter Sobotta

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For most retailers, there are two sides to the holiday season: long periods of preparation, followed by short intense bursts of execution. No day is more intense for online retailers than Cyber Monday.

As Black Friday remains the apex for brick-and-mortar stores, Cyber Monday has become the digital equivalent for online retailers. With it less than two months away, now is the time review your Cyber Monday returns plan.

The National Retail Federation has forecasted that holiday sales will increase more than 4 percent to $616 billion this year. In addition, online sales are expected to grow 8 percent to 11 percent, more than twice as fast as brick-and-mortar purchases.

According to a survey conducted by the Retail Equation, here's how returns stacked up for the 2013 holiday season: More than 10 percent of holiday sales were returned within 90 days of purchase. And holiday returns cost retailers more than $58 billion in revenue.

As Cyber Monday becomes increasingly popular among consumers, ecommerce retailers provide a purchasing experience from the convenience of a screen, instead of in the long lines associated with Black Friday.

But an online product order comes with a level of uncertainty. What happens if the product arrives and it's not what the customer expected? Or what if the customer has a frustrating experience with assembly? How can product returns be reduced to keep sales and profits rising?

Here are three tips to follow now to reduce the amount of Cyber Monday returns:

Related: Can Topple Amazon This Holiday Season

1. Offer customers support.

Support is a vital element of the customer experience. Being prepared and answering questions in advance of a purchase will help to prevent returns and increase customer satisfaction. This can mean providing an updated frequently asked questions (FAQ) page on a website, a live chat for buyers or knowledgeable call-center agents.

2. Set proper staffing.

How is your business prepared for the staffing requirements of the holiday season? With the customer experience at stake, big retailers are not taking any chances. Macy's has topped the list this year with an expected 86,000 job openings, about a 4 percent increase over the 2013 season.

As your company prepares for the influx of online orders, make sure the warehouse is prepared to handle Cyber Monday transactions. This includes assuring adequate amounts of workers and products, as well as shipping the correct products and sizes to customers. Take the time to train new staff properly to avoid shipping errors or delays. Products that do not arrive in a timely manner stand a greater chance of being returned.

Related: Into Shape Before the Holidays (Infographic)

3. Provide accurate product descriptions and images.

Without a physical product to touch, online customers are forced to draw their own conclusions based on site descriptions and images. Portraying products in an accurate and pleasing way is vital to closing sales and keeping them from returning to the warehouse a few months later.

Take the time to figure out the products that had a high return rate last year and amend their descriptions and imagery. Work with the customer service team to identify the top questions asked about your products and add this information to the product page and product FAQ. Accurately representing these products will prevent returns down the road.

Providing a video of the product in motion is even better. The closer you can bring your customers to the experience of shopping in the store, the fewer returns you'll have as a result of improper product perception.

The benefits of having a preholiday returns plan are many: improved client satisfaction and retention and an overall increase in customer lifetime value. This is a gift smart retailers can enjoy all year long.

Related: 5 Ways to Prepare Your Website for Cyber Monday

Peter Sobotta

Founder and CEO of Return Logic

Peter Sobotta is the founder and CEO of Return Logic, a technology startup that enables retailers to manage and optimize their product-returns strategy. Sobotta is a known industry expert and thought leader in the field of reverse logistics, ecommerce and supply-chain management.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

This One Word Is a Giveaway That You Used ChatGPT to Write an Email, According to an Expert

"Delve" has increased its presence in written work since ChatGPT entered the scene.

Business News

Yes, You Can Buy a Foldable Tiny Home on Amazon — And Now It's Selling for Less Than $12,000

The waterproof and flameproof house was listed around $35,000 a few months ago.

Side Hustle

This Insurance Agent Started a Side Hustle Inspired By Nostalgia for His Home State — Now It Earns Nearly $40,000 a Month

After moving to New York City, Danny Trejo started a business to stay in touch with his roots — literally.

Starting a Business

4 Common Mistakes That Will Spell Doom Your Ecommerce Business

It's hard to spot a success story before it happens, yet it's easy to tell if a business will struggle. With that in mind, here are the four most common mistakes people make that you should avoid when starting an ecommerce business.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.