For many retailers, the holiday shopping season can account for up to 30 percent of total annual revenue. While that’s an incredible windfall in a short amount of time, the holidays also see an uptick in returns as people send their unwanted sweaters, problematic consumer electronics and ill-fitting shoes back to store shelves. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 13 percent—or close to $90 billion worth of merchandise—is returned to U.S. retailers every holiday shopping season. In 2019, it’s predicted that number could be even higher as more consumers than ever are expected to shop online.

Today’s buyer is incredibly comfortable with online shopping, preferring the browse-from-home convenience to busy mall crowds. Adobe reports that online holiday shopping reached an unprecedented $126 billion in 2018, which accounted for a 16.5% increase year over year. Average daily online revenue also broke $2 billion for the first time ever and 26 days out of the 61-day time period topped that amount. Considering online and mobile holiday shopping are set to break records in 2019, we also foresee an unprecedented amount of returns, especially given that ecommerce return rates are double that of brick and mortar stores.

Much of that merchandise will still be in working and cosmetically perfect condition, returned mostly due to personal preference or incorrect sizing. Not only do retailers miss out on the sale, but they’re also hit with additional losses due to the expense associated with restocking the returns. It costs twice as much to process an online return back onto the shelf as it does to sell it, and packing and storing seasonal items takes up valuable real estate in what is likely already a full warehouse.

With 1 in 5 U.S. consumers starting their holiday shopping in October or sooner (MarketingLand.com), now is the perfect time to get ahead of the holiday returns backlash. By having a recovery-generating secondary market plan in place, retailers will be better prepared to offset the majority of their seasonal financial loss. Retailers could, of course, sell to one or two big buyers, but that’s not particularly efficient for two reasons. Number one, recovery is often less than what it could be and, number two, offline negotiation takes more time away from core business responsibilities.

A far better solution is to setup a dynamic secondary online marketplace like the one you’ll find with B Stock. Our data-backed online auction system sells excess and returned inventory to approved buyers around the globe, compelling a faster sales cycle, and driving demand while pushing up prices. Marketplaces are customized, integrated and scaled based on the retailer’s individual needs.

Retailers also have total control over who is buying their inventory and how it enters the secondary market—all while handling increased returned holiday inventory without sacrificing recovery or speed at which it’s sold. And, because our marketplace is backed by years of compiled data, retailers can make a big difference in their sales by making small adjustments to factors like lot optimization, low start prices, accurate manifests and targeted marketing.

By thinking strategically about holiday shopping now, seasonal returns can actually become a business asset for retailers, rather than a painful afterthought.

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