When Is the Busiest Day for Consumer Returns After the Holidays?

Manager checking items at the warehouse

U.S. retailers will have to find an efficient reverse logistics provider even before this year’s holiday season ends as more consumers become comfortable with the idea of returning bought goods.

The so-called National Returns Day usually takes place in early January, sometimes right after the previous year’s holiday season. On Dec. 19, however, retailers already handled as much as 1.5 million returned shipments. By contrast, the expected number of returns on Jan. 3, 2019, will reach around 1.3 million parcels. It marks the first time that National Returns Day occurred before Christmas and can be included in an estimated $94 billion of merchandise returns for this holiday season.

Why Reverse Logistics Will Be More Necessary

The booming e-commerce sector has a lot to do with the rising number of returned merchandise. Online shoppers have become more accustomed to sending products back to retailers, especially since many offer free shipping and returns in a bid to outplay competitors. E-commerce companies have made it easier for them to return items. In the past, most people have been reluctant to buy item since the prospect of replacing it can be difficult.

The caveat, though, involves a likely huge expense on the part of retail companies. Some enforce rules and regulations on what constitutes a valid return, but it can be tricky since they could run the risk of driving away repeat customers with a complicated process. Still, having an efficient returns management system in place will be useful. An April report showed that almost 45% of online shoppers returned a product, and many of them sent the merchandise back to the seller.

Customer Satisfaction: a Driving Factor

Retailers can sell or reuse most of the returned products, but that involves costs associated with sorting and transportation. This serves as another reason for them to hire a reverse logistics provider such as ReverseLogix, yet it can be driven by a need to please customers.

Companies know that despite offering the lowest-priced items, people aren’t willing to buy right away if they don’t offer free shipping and a flexible returns process. In fact, nearly 80% of online shoppers will not purchase an item without reading a retailer’s return policies. Luckily for retailers, certain items can’t be sent back to them.

What Customers Can’t Return

Man scanning package

Products without a serial number or Universal Product Code can’t be shipped back to the retailer. Amazon, for instance, won’t accept returns of electronics with a missing serial number or UPC. Food and grocery items can’t be returned as well since perishable items are highly unlikely to be resold. This applies to flowers and plants, although some policies might focus on complying with local or state laws against shipping certain types of live plants.

The holiday season marks a critical time for retailers to focus on handling product returns just as much as wanting to increase sales. More people are likely to return products next year, even if they aren’t offered for free. Hence, a reverse logistics strategy should be part of your business plan.