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And many happy returns... | Owners: Peace of mind starts here! | No, this doesn't count as "job growth!" | Is a loan really the answer? (Especially if it's your own stores?)
Monday, December 9, 2019

From The Co-Founders

Patricia M. Johnson & Richard F. Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists, LLC  •  Retail Turnaround Experts

And many happy returns...

This is the week that is typically a bit of a lull. The first wave of shoppers – Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, Cyber Monday – has crested; the final wave doesn't begin in earnest until this coming weekend.

So, what better time than this to revisit your returns policy?!

Yes, returns (and exchanges.) That longtime bugaboo of retailers is a potential competitive edge. Especially vis-a-vis online retailers. But keep in mind, they still represent just 20-25% of all retail sales; up to 80% happens in stores.

Let's look at online first. Studies show that upwards of 40% of merchandise purchases online is returned. That helps explain why online behemoths are doing whatever they can to make returns as convenient as shopping online.*
  • That's why Walmart and Target are touting that all online purchases can be returned to any store, as well as by mail.
  • Why shippers like UPS are creating over 21,000 "access points" for package pickup or sending at retailers such as CVS, Michaels stores, Advance Auto Parts store.
And of course, retailers like Kohl's have an agreement to accept returns for Amazon. Kohl's believes that the increased foot traffic it brings to their stores is worthwhile, for Kohl's sales!

As one analyst for The Motley Fool observed, "So a big Christmas for Amazon could result in a big January for Kohl's as consumers surge to return unwanted gifts." 

In fact, continued Rich Duprey, "There's good reason to think this year could be the biggest returns season ever."
  • UPS predicts a 26% increase over last year in package-return volume (1.9 million packages) on January 2, which it calls National Returns Day. 
  • And, they expect another 1.6 million packages per day to be returned during the week leading up to Christmas.
Now let's look at those purchases not made online. In this environment, are shoppers entering your stores (or visiting your website) reassured that not only purchasing from you will be hassle free, but so too will be any potential returns?

To that end, dust off and update your returns policy, and then shout it from the rooftops! 
  • Is your policy understood by your staff?
  • Do you publish and showcase your returns policy? In your stores? On your website? Elsewhere?
  • Are you proud of your returns policy?
Keep in mind, most customers are apprehensive about making returns in person. They do not want conflict, confrontations, or insistent questioning.

Therein lies your upside opportunity! Positive word-of-mouth recognition is far more likely to come from an easy, respectful experience when returning or exchanging merchandise, than even from the initial shopping experience. 

What an effective way to differentiate your stores, and to win over customer loyalty. In fact, why not offer a 15% discount coupon to return to the store in January? 

What better way to get many happy returns...of the customers! Knock their socks off. They'll yak about their surprise to lots of folks. 

* Nathan Bomey, USA Today, July 23, 2019. UPS to get space in CVS, Michaels, Advance Authoritah Parts stores for package shipping, pickup.

** Rich Duprey, The Motley Fool, December 7, 2019. This Retailer Is Hoping Amazon Has a Massively Successful Holiday.

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Webinar of the Week - Free Access

A Case Study:
Should this retailer get a loan?

From you? From anybody??

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK  •  Now thru Sunday December 15

Many retail owners have faced this situation at one time or another: a fellow retailer (perhaps in your community, or someone you know through a trade association, or your church, etc) asks for your advice.

Or - gulp! - asks for a loan!
  • How would you - or did you - respond? 
  • Wish you could have do-overs? 
There is a way you can help without ruining the friendship. Or your bank account!

This TOPICAL TUESDAYS Webinar of the Week, led by Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt, Co-Founders of The Retail Owners Institute®, will show you an approach to take whenever you face those kinds of requests.
BTW, this approach works just as well if you are trying to decide whether to loan some money to your own  stores!  👀

Be sure to take advantage of this practical how-to webinar, available only from The ROI. Free access all week long.
The Retail Owners Institute®


Retail Business Insights


No, This Doesn't Count as "Job Growth"

In retail today, whose job is growing? For many retailers, the answer is, the customer's job!

Think about cost-saving programs in stores
  • less staff on the floor and more "self service";
  • self check-out by the customer;
  • online searches by the customer for product information;
  • online shopping.
Aren't these really shifting the work to the customer?

Remember, the definition of "value" is "Benefits received for the burdens endured."
  • What benefit does your shopper receive for the increased burdens they now endure? 
How to deliver more “value” to your customers? Start by “unburdening” them!
The Retail Owners Institute®
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