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Megan Crabtree

Here’s How to Transform Those Post-Holiday Returns into Exchanges

Create a contest that incentivizes your sales team to “save sales” they didn’t originally make.





ACCORDING TO THE National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail, retailers are expecting 13.3 percent of merchandise sold during the holiday season to be returned.

So, if we are expecting “business as usual” knowing customers will come in wanting to return purchased items, how can you train your team to try and save these sales, so it is an exchange rather than a return?

Jewelry retailers take returns rather than exchanges for two reasons. First, their associates are not trained in giving just as great of an experience for customers coming in for a return as for customers coming in for a purchase. Second, the sales associates have no skin in the game or desire to save a sale that they personally did not sell the client.

Before you do anything else, coach your team to share with customers during the buying process that if the person receiving the gift does not like it, to email or call the associate to set an appointment so they can make it right. This not only gives you a heads up prior to the client coming in, but it also allows you time to preselect other options for them.

As far as the process for returns, one key component is training your team to give the same joyful “WOW” experience when customers come in wanting to return their gift just as if they were making the purchase over again. Don’t make them feel ashamed, down, or pushed to the side because they came back to return.


Consider the following when developing the process for returns to ensure a wow experience:

  1. Have a greeter at the door to make them feel welcome.
  2. Designate someone to lead them to the original sales associate or to look up the transaction in the POS software.
  3. Offer them a beverage so they feel comfortable and like they are at home.
  4. If the original sales associate is not available, provide them with another associate who has a similar amount of experience.

Now to the fun part: How to get your sales team to save sales that they originally didn’t sell!

Create a contest. If they save a sale that they didn’t originally sell, have them reprint the receipt, handwrite their name on it, and put it in a Christmas themed box, so at the end of the month, you can draw a winner. Obviously, if they save many sales, they have more chances to win the prize. You can make the prize anything from a cash incentive to a weekend vacation!

Happy selling, and feel free to share your “save a sale” success story with me on LinkedIn at

Megan Crabtree is the founder and CEO of Crabtree Consulting. Before founding Crabtree Consulting, Megan had a successful professional career in the jewelry industry, which culminated with high-level positions at several of the top firms in the retail and manufacturing sectors. Reach her at [email protected] or visit us at www.crabtreeadvisory where you can set up a live chat or a 30-minute free consultation.



Celebrate Your Retirement with Wilkerson

For nearly three decades, Suzanne and Tom Arnold ran a successful business at Facets Fine Jewelry in Arlington, Va. But the time came when the Arnolds wanted to do some of the things you put off while you’ve got a business to run. “We decided it was time to retire,” says Suzanne, who claims the couple knew how to open a store, how to run a store but “didn’t know how to close a store.” So, they hired Wilkerson to do it for them. When she called, Suzanne says Wilkerson offered every option for the sale she could have hoped for. Better still, “the sale exceeded our financial goals like crazy,” she says. And customers came, not only to take advantage of the going-out-of-business buys and mark-downs, but to wish a bon voyage to the beloved proprietors of a neighborhood institution. “People were celebrating our retirement, and that was so special,” says says.

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