Knowing that not everyone will be keeping their holiday treasures, retailers are reminding people this year: “don’t forget the gift receipt!” As a person whose shopping list ranges from a nephew who has one hand on the video game controller all times – he might even sleep with it - to a sister who quite literally has everything she already needs, I am very thankful for gift receipts and all the many ways retailers are making returns easier.
Many companies now skip the print process and email their shoppers the receipt after the transaction is complete. For the digital junkies, this lets them keep an electronic record of all of their purchases. There are even some small retailers texting receipts to people who prefer to keep track of their purchases on their mobile device.
For those hard-to-buy-for friends and family, gift receipts are simply a must. According to NRF’s 2012 holiday returns survey, 62 percent of holiday shoppers say they give a gift receipt some or most of the time, about the same percent who said so last year – guaranteeing that loved ones get something they want. This holiday season, however, returning a gift may not necessarily be on the post holiday to-do list; more than 65 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t have to return any gifts last year, a bright outlook for this year.
Retailers strive to cater to their customers’ needs through a variety of methods, including their return policies. Some companies have to maintain a fairly strict return policy, perhaps because they see a lot of return fraud. While others have room to be a bit more lenient, especially during the holiday season. Overall the industry’s policies vary. Macy’s will let shoppers return items to any location at any time with a voucher, as long as the item is in new condition. Others like Toy ‘R’ Us and IKEA have a 90-day return policy if items are returned in their original packaging. Kohl’s lets shoppers return items at any time for any reason, with or without a receipt for a full exchange or store credit. When it comes to what people think about companies’ return policies, nine in 10 consumers agree that retailers’ return policies are fair.
Regardless of your gift-buying skills, a word to the wise this holiday season -don’t forget the receipt. It will really be appreciated when Aunt Betty wants to return the cookware you got her for a cashmere sweater of her choice.
Here are some tips for seamless post-holiday returns:
- Make a list and check it twice: Many retailers have their return policies posted online or displayed within stores; gift-givers should make a list of where they shopped and make note of their return policies.
- Receipts, the new stocking stuffer: Keep all receipts! While many retailers may allow consumers to make returns without an original or gift receipt, some don’t. To ensure a hassle-free return it’s still a great idea to present one.
- Unwrap gifts carefully: Original packaging is a must for some retailers when it comes to returns – during the holidays and throughout the year.
- Santa 2.0: While many gift-givers are in-store shoppers, some purchase gifts online. When making an online return it’s important to know who pays for return shipping and the exact location that returned items should be sent.
- Patience is a virtue: The holidays are hectic for retailers and shoppers alike, having patience when returning merchandise keeps the stress levels down and holiday cheer high!