UPS is forecasting 1.4 million returns on National Returns Day, Jan. 3, up 8 percent from the prior year, which would be a fifth consecutive annual record.
The shipping giant said record breaking Black Friday and Cyber Week e-commerce sales jump-started the holiday returns season, with a larger flood of packages going back to retailers. In December, more than 1 million returns occurred each day before Christmas.
“While the day after Christmas used to be reserved for long return lines at department stores, the growth of e-commerce has changed when and how consumers return gifts,” UPS chief commercial officer Alan Gershenhorn, said. “A customer-friendly returns program is now an essential part of any successful e-commerce program and UPS continues to expand its suite of innovative solutions to help shippers. This season, UPS added Returns Manager, a free platform that allows e-commerce merchants to customize return shipments according to their e-tailer policy.”
The returns delivered in 2017 are part of the 750 million packages UPS is projected to deliver between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, a nearly 40 million increase from last year.
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According to the 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, 75 percent of consumers have shipped returns back to the retailer, an increase of seven percentage points from 2016. Also, 79 percent of those surveyed said free shipping on returns is important when selecting an online retailer, and 44 percent said the top issue encountered when returning an item online is paying for return shipping.
Top elements also include an easy-to-return online experience and a no-questions-asked policy. As a result, many businesses have added or expanded returns offerings.
“A simple and speedy experience should be part of the retailer’s toolkit to help increase customer loyalty while managing the cost of processing these returns,” Gershenhorn added. “UPS offers a portfolio of technology-driven returns services that help retailers deliver a premium experience.”
Services include UPS Returns Manager, a portal offering shippers control and visibility over their returns. The service allows shippers of all sizes to create and manage returns policies and designate the return destination.
UPS Print Return Labels can be included in outbound shipments to simplify the returns process, and UPS Electronic Return Labels can be emailed to consumers directly from UPS to improve their returns experience.
In addition, UPS Returns Plus allows the merchant to send a driver to deliver a return label and pick up the return package from any address, while UPS Returns Exchange is when a driver simultaneously picks up the return item in exchange for the replacement item delivery.
UPS also works with Optoro, a technology company that helps retailers and manufacturers manage, process and sell returned and excess inventory, to provide a one-stop shop reverse logistics solution that combines UPS’s operational and logistics expertise with Optoro’s software platform that maximizes recovery value.
With UPS Access Point locations, customers get secure, convenient delivery and returns through more than 27,000 local retailers, secure lockers, and The UPS Store locations in North America and Europe.