Online retailers are hoping for a bumper boost to their Christmas 2016 sales figures today with the event of Cyber Monday. Many will be applying impressive discounts to cash-in on the increasingly popular campaign. Last year, UK shoppers beat spending records by splashing out £1.1 billion on Black Friday and £968 million on the Monday.
However, for small and medium sized businesses Cyber Monday can be something of a double edged sword as buying doesn’t necessarily mean keeping and so-called ‘serial returners’ threaten to cause a major headache.
Three in ten SME online retailers complain that ‘serial returners’ are harming their profit margin. The main threat to this is customers who deliberately over purchase to take advantage of free delivery and returns. Barclaycard, who carried out a study into the effect on SMEs, said that 52 per cent of retailers claimed this had a negative impact on the day to day running of their business and 21 per cent said they’d increased prices as a direct result.
The dilemma over free returns and delivery is said to have come about as SMEs challenge larger rivals for business. Their commitment to these free services has influenced 58 per cent of shoppers who say a returns policy will affect their decision to buy and 47 per cent said they wouldn’t purchase an item if they were expected to foot the bill for returns.
So what’s the advice for SMEs this Cyber Monday?
Be aware that an increase in sales this week could well mean an increase in returns as buyers aren’t always keepers – especially when there are lots of other deals being promoted in cyber space! Make sure you have enough staff on stand-by to cover the period. Finally, think beyond the next few days and take into account the chance of large numbers of returns otherwise it could give a false sense of profit and loss.