How to turn Returns Week into Exchange Week

12/21 By Amanda Forrester

This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales topped $11.6 million, making combined 2017 Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales weekend the biggest on record in terms of pure revenue. That’s great news for American retailers who flexed their digital savvy to move products off shelves this holiday season. Unfortunately, there’s still a major challenge looming that could leave those same retailers reeling from a post-holiday hangover: Returns week.

According to the National Retail Federation, the pre-holiday sales boom is counterbalanced by a smaller, but still extremely costly boom in return in early January. The high volume of legitimate post-holiday exchanges masks an uptick in fraudulent returns that cost retailers an estimated 2.2 billion in returns during the 2015-2016 holiday return season. Retail marketers who are content to rest on their laurels after a successful holiday sales season can expect this type of behavior take a big bite out of their bottom line.

Fortunately, returns week also represents a huge opportunity to turn legitimate returns into exchanges and even new sales. While overall media quality suffers throughout the holiday season as a consequence of high demand, the first week of January is actually something of an oasis. Overall viewability is up 4% from the annual average, and ad fraud, which peaks in December during the holiday shopping rush, is down 45% once things quiet down in the New Year. That’s great news for the combined 33% of marketers who reported that viewability and ad fraud were their top concerns this holiday season during our Tricks of the Trade Holiday Webinar.

Luckily, 61% of attendees also reported that they have a use-it-or-lose-it end of year budget, and that number is likely to be even bigger among marketers at large. Most savvy marketers keep a little cash in reserve for the end of the year, but with 2017 budgets winding down those surpluses are set to disappear if they aren’t put to work.

We’d recommend putting some of those disappearing dollars into campaigns that take advantage of the high-quality media environment available in early January. Develop campaigns that speak directly to customers by remembering where they’re going to be. While mobile sees a boost in viewability during the holidays while most people are on the go, returns week means there will be more eyes on desktop computers as vacations wind down and most people return to work.

With a little planning, a savvy marketer can take advantage of quality media to turn their end-of-year budget surplus into a targeted campaign. A bit of smart marketing can take the sting out of return week fraud, with a flood of exchanges and new sales.

To learn more about how media quality changes throughout the holiday season and begin making plans for 2018, check our Tricks of the Trade Holiday Webinar.