The holidays are here, and for retailers around the country, that brings hopes of big revenues. Instead of sugar plums dancing in their head, business owners have dollar signs. Everyone is looking for a big start to the season with Black Friday, and a continued stream of customers thereafter.

But once the holiday season ends, there’s one thing that retailers don’t look forward to—returns. Returns can mean lost revenue, confusing processes, and headaches all around. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. The holidays are the best time to create repeat customers, and the post-holiday return season is no different. A return is a perfect time to make a great impression, and a stress-free experience gives people the confidence to come back in the future.

1. Make sure your systems can process returns across channels. It’s technology that previously wasn’t available to small businesses, but now it’s accessible to businesses of all sizes. Customers may have long lists of returns after the holidays, and they likely aren’t going to be happy about having to go from store to store to make them. If you say they can’t return it at this location because they bought it elsewhere or got it online, that’s not going to make anyone likelier to come back next year—or next month.

2. Refund the original card. Many of your customers will only be looking for store credit, and these are the easy returns. But plenty of returns will be the original buyer coming back for any number of reasons—maybe a finicky kid changed his mind, maybe a significant other didn’t like the color. If it becomes a hassle to refund the original card, you’re only adding your store to the bad association with the experience, but if you make it easy, they’ll remember you fondly.

3. Know your inventory. Of course, some returns are for an aspect as small as an incorrect size. When someone comes in to return the item, they’re going to be looking for the right size. A long quest to find it in your store…and then decide you don’t have it and call up another branch and ask about it…and then wait to hear if they have it…is often just going to result in a customer saying “forget it, I’ll just take a refund.” Make sure you have accurate inventory so you can either find the product quickly, or order from another location fast.

Returns can be simple if you’re prepared and have the right solutions in place. Make sure you’re thinking ahead, so that post-holiday returns don’t become a post-holiday headache.

You might also be interested in:
How to Solve Your 3 Biggest Black Friday Problems
Why Gift Cards Are So Important This Holiday Season

​​How to Turn Holiday Returns Into Return Customers

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