It's gloomy news for retailers today as The Times newspaper reports that one in 4 purchases, made between Black Friday and Boxing Day*, will be sent back to the retail store this month. This would equate to about £4.8 billion of the estimated £19 billion in online sales: A huge hit for the dominant retailers such as Amazon, but it's the medium to small-sized shop that will feel the biggest impact on margins, and be most exposed.
The article in The Times refers mainly to online sales, rather than in-store purchases, but just how many returns will YOU see, how does it affect your bottom line, and what can you do?
What's Really Going On?
When it comes to Returns, it pays to see the bigger picture. Why is the item being returned? Does this customer 'seem' to return a lot of items?
Over recent years, there's been an epidemic of the 'try before you buy' approach among consumers, and retail experts are concerned that this new trend could see people returning 3 items a month, on average**.
When a customer returns an item to the pro shop, it's worth looking at the customer history to see if they're serial 'returners'. As a business owner, you put a lot of effort into building customer loyalty. If you do see a pattern with a particular customer, they may have genuine reasons for returning items, in which case, they may just need more help from you to make the right purchasing decisions. Or, they could be using your shop to trial new products, before they buy them cheaper on line...
And you don't want that.
- When you process a return, always log it against the customer account/name. This will enable you to build up a picture of customer purchase, and return, history.
- Think about ways you can build loyalty to the pro shop. XMAIL is an email marketing service, provided by us, that sends simple thank you's to a customer, post-purchase. The result is a happier, more loyal consumer, who enjoys a personal service from the Golf Pro, and is less likely to go elsewhere. You can read more about XMAIL here.
- A long-term strategy of capturing customer data can help minimise returns from gift purchasing, as the more detailed sales records you keep on your system can help spouses, family or friends, to buy the right sizes and brands for a loved one, when they come into the pro shop.
PROCESSING A RETURN IN XPOS
On a practical level, our epos system, XPOS, makes processing returns seamless for our users, and we've included a step by step guide (below) to help you process the following:
- Returning items in exchange for credit on customer's account
- Returning items to be replaced by supplier
- Returning items to be swopped for another product
1. Returning an item in exchange or credit on the customer's account
- Start a sale
- Add the customer who made the original purchase using Customer Selector
- Scan or Search for the item being returned
- Highlight the item
- Edit Product
- On the first calculator change the quantity to a minus figure, then Enter
- On the second calculator amend the price if appropriate. Enter to confirm price of the returned item (check the customer statement so see the original sale price)
- Next to proceed to the Payment screen
- Type in relevant notes about the refund
- Choose Account Credit to add value of item as credit on their account
- You will be prompted to with a message asking if the return item is suitable for re-sale.
Yes places the product back into stock for resale,
No either has no action, or can be configured to create an order. (If you wish to set up this latter option, please contact support)
2. Returning items to be replaced by supplier
- Choose No when asked if the item is suitable for resale
- If configured, an order will be created, this will allow you to keep track of the expected delivery
- When the delivery arrives, go to Orders
- Find the correct order and highlight
- Then Take Delivery
- Say Yes to receiving the product from the supplier
- The product is now back in stock
- If the product is for the original customer, sell it to their account
- This will clear the previous credit
3. Returning items to be swopped for another product
- Add product to be returned to the sale screen
- Edit product
- Make the quantity a minus figure
- Add the new product to the sales screen
- If they are the same price, go to the payment screen and finish OR
- If they now owe some money, choose the correct payment method to complete the sale OR
- If the new item is a lower value, the option for Account Credit will now be available to add the difference to their account.
Note: It is important to follow this process even if the swap is two of the same product in different sizes/colours otherwise the stock level on both products will be wrong.
*Analysis from the Centre for Economics and Business Research in London.
** Elias Jahsham, Retail Gazette