Holiday returns checklist for small businesses

3 minute read

As the holiday season approaches, and Canadians start shopping, it’s important to set your business up for success. How you market your business and manage your backend operations matters. Even how you handle returns can be incredibly impactful.

Use holiday returns to your advantage

To go the extra mile for customers, use your returns policy to support your online business and meet shoppers’ expectations.

Extend your holiday returns timeline to satisfy customers

Consider offering a holiday returns window that extends until the end of January – or even early February – as a courtesy for those who shop early for gifts. If your regular returns window is only 30 days, early shoppers won’t benefit from it if they shop early and hold onto their gifts until the holidays. Consider marking any purchases made from November to the end of the year as returnable through January, with a must-complete date for returns of January 31, 2023.

Choose a timeline that best suits your business and your customers’ needs. This will build trust with your customers as it will enable them to gift your products with confidence. They’ll know that if they, or their gifts’ recipients, need to complete a return, there will be ample time to do so.

Is your business ready for the holidays?
Our checklist of 7 action items can help.

View checklist

Give shoppers user-friendly returns options

Offering customers choices and flexibility when it comes to completing returns can go a long way. Shoppers appreciate options for how they can return their ecommerce purchases:

  • 72% of shoppers surveyed said that they would choose to shop with a retailer that offers convenient locations to return items to, over another retailer that doesn’t. *
  • 70% said they would choose one retailer over another if they accepted returns in store. *
  • 69% said they would choose one retailer over another if they accepted returns by mail/courier. *

Try these returns tips

Here are some key considerations for both online and in-store returns as you navigate the 2022 holiday season:

Tips for online returns

Offering online returns allows customers to return goods easily. Outline what a customer needs to do as clearly as possible to make the process go smoothly for both of you. Determine:

  • If they will need to include the invoice or packing slip that came with their original order in the return
  • If you will need to include a prepaid label with the original shipment to facilitate the return
  • If they will be able to contact your store for a prepaid, on-demand return label
  • If there is a must-be-mailed-by date to facilitate your holiday returns

Remember to account for delivery and processing times for returns as well!


Canada Post can help you simplify returns with our returns solutions. Learn more.

Tips for in-store returns

In-store shopping is set to rebound this year by 13%.* Returning goods in store can be easier and quicker for local customers. If you offer in-store returns, ensure customers are informed of your processes and timelines. Communicate the following details to customers:

  • If they will need to bring the gift receipt, original receipt, invoice or packing slip to be eligible for a return
  • How the refund will be processed, i.e. through store credit for returns made with a gift receipt vs. refund to original payment with original receipt
  • Your store hours and any changes to regular hours that may be influenced by the holiday season, such as extended hours, holiday closures and/or store holidays
  • Return time frames
  • Any items that are no longer eligible for returns

Arm your customers with the information they need to facilitate an enjoyable shopping experience from start to finish.

Be transparent about your return policy to build customer confidence

No matter how you facilitate returns, make sure your policy is detailed, clear and easy to find on your website and in store. The more detailed and complete your policy is, the more confident shoppers will feel.

You may choose to link to your policy from one or multiple locations on your site. Consider including it in the page footer, your FAQs and at checkout to ensure visibility at all stages of the customer’s purchase journey. Make sure your customer’s experience is seamless from end-to-end.

All statistics are referenced from Phase 5. Canadian Online Shopper Study, May 2022.

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