UPS expects online parcel return to hit a new record in New Year

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December 28, 2017: As the ratio of online purchases increased in December, it also increased the cost of returns for e-commerce retailers, thanks to the massive surge in online parcel returns.

According to Alan Gershenhorn, chief commercial officer of UPS, online retailers are counting the cost of returns as shoppers returned their purchases made in the week before Christmas.

In December, there were over one million returns every day before Christmas. Further, 1.4 million returns are expected on the National Returns Day%u2014January 3, 2018. It's a fifth consecutive annual record of parcel returns, which is up eight percent compared to the previous year.

According to UPS, during Black Friday and Cyber Week, e-commerce sales kicked off the season of returns, with a larger flood of packages going back to retailers, even while many presents sat under the tree.

'While the day after Christmas used to be reserved for long return lines at department stores, the growth of e-commerce has changed how consumers return gifts,' said Gershenhorn. 

'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. 

During this current season, UPS has added Returns Manager%u2014a free platform that allows e-commerce merchants to customise its return shipments according to their e-tailer policy,' he said.

During December, consumers shipped over one million returns packages to retailers daily, a pace expected to last into early January 2018. 

During UPS National Returns Day to be held on January 3, 2018, the return count is expected to peak at 1.4 million packages, up eight percent from a year ago, thereby marking a fifth-consecutive yearly record. 

The returns delivered in 2017 are part of the 750 million packages UPS is projected to deliver between Thanksgiving and the New Year Eve, which is about 40 million increase compared to last year.

According to the 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, 75 percent of consumers have shipped returns back to the retailer, registering an increase of seven points from 2016. 

Besides, 79 percent of those surveyed said free shipping on returns is important while 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, several 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,' added Gershenhorn. 

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