Conversion Up on Black Friday, But Beware Returns before Christmas: Report

E-commerce data for this holiday season has mostly told a story of growth. But, one ostensibly positive statistic could hide a threat to e-commerce merchants this Christmas. In an analysis of online transactions running across its global network, Ingenico ePayments found conversion was much higher on Black Friday and Cyber Monday than is usually the case. In fact, on Black Friday weekend, Ingenico found abandonment rates in the U.S. were half what they are on a typical day. In the U.K., they were a third lower while Germany enjoyed 15 percent lower abandonment. In the Netherlands it was a whopping 67 percent less (Spain, where cart abandonment actually was two-thirds higher than a typical day was an outlier).

But, while higher conversion is something e-commerce merchants strive for, during the holidays it can present a challenge from the perspective of managing returns—most of which happen even before Christmas, according to David Jimenez, chief revenue officer for Ingenico ePayments.

“While higher conversion is the Holy Grail for retailers, the danger here is that customers will suffer from buyer’s remorse, changing their mind and returning goods,” Jimenez said. “Mid-December is one of the busiest times for returns: by mid-December last year, 50 percent of refunds from Black Friday had been processed, with 75 percent processed by Christmas Eve. This ties up the retailer’s stock in the return process, instead of having it available to online customers before Christmas. We increasingly see our merchants turning to us as they plan to manage returns, which we believe has now become as vital as the sales themselves.”