eCommerce brings us a new shopping day (sort of), but it is one that most online retailers dread. January 3rd is now considered National Returns Day in the U.S., the busiest day of the holiday season for return shipments.
This year, UPS estimates to process 1.4 million return packages on Wednesday, January 3rd. That is an 8 percent increase from a year ago and marks the 5th consecutive yearly record.
While FedEx and USPS did not provide any returns data for National Returns Day, both services will see an uptick in returns packages as well.
But as significant as 1.4 million packages sounds, this holiday season was so strong for eCommerce that even after Black Friday, UPS estimates shoppers were sending returns back at a record pace of about 1 million packages per day in December.
Out 750 million packages that UPS handles during the holiday season, it appears at least 40 to 50 million are returns.
While the day after Christmas used to be reserved for long return lines at department stores, the growth of eCommerce has changed when and how consumers return gifts. A customer-friendly returns program is now an essential part of any successful eCommerce program, and UPS continues to expand its suite of innovative solutions to help shippers.
Alan Gershenhorn, Chief Commercial Officer, UPS
Returns are The New Normal For eCommerce
According to a 2017 study by UPS, 75 percent of consumers shipped a product back to a retailer. That is an increase of seven points over 2016.
79 percent of consumers surveyed stated that free shipping on returns is important to them when selecting an online retailer, and 44 percent consider paying for return shipping is a top issue for them.
Also important to consumers is the ease of returns and a no-questions-asked return policy. Increasingly, consumers read return policies before making buying decisions, requiring online retailers to highlight easy returns or face losing the sale.
While many small business online retailers will blame Amazon for liberal return policies, and often eBay sellers gripe about being forced to accept returns, the fact is that returns are the new normal and eCommerce and marketplace sellers must find ways to adapt.
For most industries, return policies can no longer include restocking fees, and in many industries, especially fashion, free returns will further become the new normal to stay competitive with other online retailers.
How did you manage returns this years during the holiday season? Did you encounter more return requests than before? Drop us a line in the comments section below.