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eCommerce Returns: What To Expect From The 2020 Holidays

January 08, 2021
2 Min Read
eCommerce Returns: What To Expect From The 2020 Holidays

If you thought that the fulfillment, shipping and delivery process was difficult during the 2020 holiday season, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise the weeks following the holidays. With online returns expected to hit record highs, many eCommerce retailers must adjust their business operations and return policies to ensure a positive customer experience.

eCommerce Returns: What To Expect In Early 2021

According to Adobe Analytics, 2020 Cyber Monday alone set a new record for the largest U.S. internet shopping day ever. Consumers spent a total of $10.8 billion, which was a 15% increase compared to 2019. That number doesn't even include purchases made in the month of December!

eCommerce sales have soared amid the pandemic, and the increase in demand for online goods interferes with the supply chain and stresses the fulfillment process.

eCommerce Returns Are Forecasted To Reach A  Record High

It is forecasted that online returns will hit a record of $70.5 billion from this past holiday season − a 73% increase from the previous five-year average − according to CBRE, a commercial real estate services and investment firm This boost in eCommerce returns can be contributed consumers' changing online shopping habits amid COVID-19.

CBRE also estimated that online purchases in November and December 2020 would reach almost $235 billion, which would be a 40% increase year over year. With this huge spike in online purchases and an average return rate of 30%, it's understandable why the number of returns post-holiday season is expected to climb remarkably.

How To Face High eCommerce Return Rates

2020 has been a year full of uncertain variables that has effected brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce businesses and consumers all over the world. The growth of Amazon in recent years has transformed customer expectations, and consumers are now viewing free returns as a valuable facet in the purchasing decision process.

Optoro, a technology company that works with retailers and manufacturers to manage and then resell their returned and excess merchandise, conducted a survey to determine retailers' concerns with returns. In 2019, only 15% of large retailers thought that returns were of major concern. In 2020, that number topped 50%.

Luckily for business owners, there are ways to adapt to these changing circumstances. For one, extending return dates gives companies more time to process the heavy influx of returns.

Second, it's critical for companies to put an emphasis on their return policies moving forward. Incorporating the ease of returns into a company strategy actually encourages customers to purchase because it provides them with the peace of mind knowing that if they're dissatisfied, items or subscriptions can be returned or refunded.

Proactively informing customers during the sales process of how your company's return policy works not only makes them more inclined to convert but also builds customer trust and drives brand loyalty. Rather than essentially ignoring a potential problem upfront, sales teams need to initiate the conversation around returns and refunds, and marketing teams need to ensure that their brand's copy and creative are informative and easily accessible on the website.

Also, when customers do make a return, brands shouldn't hesitate to cross-sell related items, up-sell, offer other promotions or provide immediate refunds. Transparency upfront between brands and consumers builds a foundation for trust and makes customers feel comfortable purchasing a different item when they return a previous one.


If you need help with optimizing your eCommerce website or marketing strategy in 2021, Groove Commerce is here to help! To learn more about how we can help reach your eCommerce goals, explore our website services and marketing services. To have a conversation with a member of our team, just fill out the form below with any questions or concerns. We look forward to learning more about your 2021 goals and helping you build, design and grow your website.

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