Number Of Packages Returned Expected To Peak Before Christmas, Reflecting E-Commerce Shift


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  • 1.5 million returns expected on National Returns Day, Dec. 19, setting a record for the sixth consecutive year
  • In December, more than 1 million returns expected daily leading up to Christmas
  • Second returns spike expected in early January

National Returns Day is expected to occur prior to Christmas, reflecting just how deeply e-commerce is reshaping the retail universe, according to UPS (NYSE: UPS).

Consumers who got a jump on online shopping in the days before Black Friday are expected to begin returning more than 1 million packages each day in December, jumpstarting the holiday returns season earlier than ever. The spike is driven by self-gifting due to retailer promotions, express shipping for deliveries and returns, simplified returns processes and advanced re-stocking and management systems.

In past years, National Returns Day occurred in early January and represented the highest spike of packages for the entire year. Returns are still expected to hit 1.3 million packages on Jan. 3, but this will now represent the second wave and be outpaced by Dec. 19th returns of 1.5 million. These returns are included in the 800 million packages UPS anticipates delivering this holiday season.

”UPS understands the essential and evolving role that package returns play in e-commerce. As a result, UPS has helped our customers get ahead of the curve with a portfolio of technology-driven returns services,” said Kevin Warren, UPS’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We help retailers deliver a premium experience that manages the cost of the returns process while meeting the needs of today’s discerning consumer.”

Research continues to show that to succeed in e-commerce retailers must offer comprehensive returns services. UPS’s Pulse of the Online Shopper™ study found that:

  • 75% of consumers have shipped returns back to the retailer;
  • 79% of e-commerce shoppers surveyed said free shipping on returns is important when selecting an online retailer;
  • 44% said the top issue encountered when returning an item online is paying for return shipping; and
  • Top elements of a great returns experience include an easy-to-return online experience and a no-questions-asked policy.
Optoro, a technology company that helps retailers and brands optimize their returned and excess inventory, found that 97 percent of consumers are more likely to buy something again from a retailer with which they had a positive returns experience. Conversely, 89 percent of customers will not shop again at a retailer or brand with which they had a negative returns experience.

“Leading retailers and brands understand that the returns moment is an increasingly important time to drive future customer loyalty and engagement,” said Tobin Moore, co-founder and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Optoro.

UPS’s returns services include:

  • UPS Returns® Manager is 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;
  • UPS Electronic Return Labels can be emailed to consumers directly from UPS to improve their returns experience;
  • UPS Returns® Plus allows the merchant to send a driver to deliver a return label and pick up the return package from any address;
  • UPS Returns® Exchange is when a driver simultaneously picks up the return item in exchange for the replacement item delivery;
  • UPS Access Point™ locations offer secure, convenient delivery and returns through more than 28,000 local retailers, secure lockers, and The UPS Store® locations in North America and Europe.
  • Optoro: UPS and Optoro work together provide a one-stop shop reverse logistics solution that combines UPS’s operational and logistics expertise with Optoro’s returns optimization platform that can help maximize recovery value and reduces harmful environmental waste. UPS invested in Optoro.