As the retail market takes a shift, so too does the way consumers purchase goods. Today, it seems like nothing is final when it comes to buying and returning gifts. Example: 77 percent of shoppers are anticipating returning some of their gifts this season, and nearly 20 percent expect to return more than half. In total, that will equate to $90B+ in returns this holiday season. What does this mean? It means the thought process behind shopping is changing.

Gone are the days when consumers felt embarassed about returning something. Today they’re loud and proud about returns, and they want their money back asap. In order to stay ahead, retailers are offering more flexibility to shoppers with extended return policies. But if A=B and B=C, there’s a challenge ahead:

A: Consumers are more likely to shop from stores with generous return policies

For instance, 58 percent of consumers will not buy if there isn’t a no-questions-asked return policy. But in the world of friendly return policies, the best gift of all is time. Did they buy the perfect gift only to discover it wasn’t the best? Were they trying to get the most out of their shopping trip now and buy something that they might return later? Absolutely. So they buy from companies and stores with the best return policies (i.e. 92 percent of consumers will buy from the retailer again if the returns policy is easy), some of which give them up to a full year to return items.

B: More Time to Return = More Freedom to Shop 

FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. What does this mean for shoppers? It means they want to take advantage of retailer incentives to buy, buy, buy NOW! It also means there is a lot of impulse purchasing going on, which leads to customers returning purchases before they even reach the gift recipient. But what does this shopping freedom frenzy lead to?

C: If Everything That Goes Up Must Come Down, Everything That Gets Returned Must Be Resold

Herein lies the issue for retailers. What can they do about all the returns? The truth is, they can’t resell returned items at full price, especially if those items are out of season. Case in point: Christmas lights, winter jackets, and boots. With extended return policies that sometimes fall well into the end of January, retailers have to think ahead when it comes to giving their returns a second life. The alternative is losing substantial amounts of money, or even worse, having those returns end up in a landfill. And as one of our latest articles shows, there’s also a growing segment of customers that want—and even prefer—buying used and secondhand items: New is Out and Used is In for Gifting.

The solution? A sustainable and flexible secondary market sales channel like the one B-Stock offers. We operate the world’s largest network of B2B marketplaces for returned, excess, and other liquidation inventory. Nine out of the top 10 U.S. retailers are using our private online marketplace solution to sell returned and excess goods (post holiday and all year long) to a base of vetted business buyers in more than 190 countries. The result? Higher pricing, a faster sales cycle, and a way to support sustainability initiatives. 

To learn more, download our Holiday Playbook on how an online marketplace can help solve your post-holiday returns problem. 

Holiday Playbook