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Post-Holiday Returns
When Cyber Santa Gets It All Wrong
Post-Holiday Returns
When Cyber Santa Gets It All Wrong
December 7, 2018
Year after year an increasing number of merrymakers shop online for gifts, holiday décor, and things that make the season bright. During the 2017 holiday season, e-commerce increased 14.7%. An increase of 17-22% is predicted for 2018, with more than half of U.S. Cyber Santa’s making gift purchases online and finishing their shopping by December. However, for the 28% that will start shopping in early December, here are some tips:

  1. Check product availability and anticipated delivery dates.

  2. Take advantage of retailer’s gift services such as wrapping and personalized messages.

  3. Have gifts delivered directly to the recipient vs. re-shipping to save money and time.

  4. Consider insuring high-value items and tracking delivery progress.

  5. Request a gift receipt so that the recipient can return unwanted or damaged items easily.

  6. Read the return policy before making a purchase.

To Everything There Is a Season – Turn. Turn. Return.
After the Black Friday frenzy and December crescendo comes the rush of returns. An estimated 25-30% of all online purchases are sent back. Last year UPS estimated they would process 6 million returns the first week of 2018. That’s nearly a quarter of the total returns processed annually – and that’s just one carrier!

Highly competitive retailers frequently offer liberal return policies and free shipping. Some will also extend their normal return period for holiday purchases.

Innovative Returns Options Drive Customer Loyalty
Fresh and innovative return methods now incorporate mobile devices, neighborhood drop-off locations, package pick-up services, and package-free, no box required, options.

  1. Amazon.com offers their customers several choices.

    1. Request a return label. Print it. Drop the package at The UPS Store, a UPS counter, or one of Amazon’s 2000 locker locations.

    2. Request a return code via electronic message. Take the return to The UPS Store.

    3. Show the code on the mobile device to the customer service rep.

    4. For items without packaging, take the item and return authorization to the UPS Store, participating Kohl’s or Whole Foods. They will box and ship the return to Amazon free of charge.

  2. Walmart.com launched Mobile Express Returns which promises a 30-second process for in-store returns at local Wal-Marts when utilizing their app.

  3. Macys.com offers free mail or in-store returns. They also offer return pickup by Deliv. Customers can specify a time and place, and a driver will pick up the return for a flat fee.

  4. Happy Returns operates 250+ “Return Bars” across the US. They will pack and ship the item back to the retailers they partner with for free.

Gift Gone Wrong
A gift recipient may be able to return an item to the online retailer and receive credit or make an exchange without the giver ever knowing. Store policies vary, but if the original purchaser indicated the item was a gift at the time of purchase, return information is often included in the package.

Wishing many happy returns to you and yours!

Sources and Additional Reading:
Washington Post, Jan. 2018 – UPS says it will handle a record 1.4 million returns on Wednesday
Washington Post, Oct. 2017 – Americans love shopping online, but they want to return things in person
Money, Inc., Feb. 2018 – The Return Trip: How Returns Impact Online Shopping
Walmart.com, Oct. 2017 – Walmart Reinvents the Returns Process
Deloitte Insights, Oct. 2017 – 2018 Deloitte holiday retail survey
Shopify, Inc., Sep. 2018 – Ecommerce Returns: Policy, Rates, Best Practices & Statistics (2018 Holiday Ed.)
FounderU, Aug. 2017 – 35 Amazing Online Shopping and Ecommerce Statistics
The Byrds, 1965 - “To Everything There Is A Season - Turn! Turn! Turn!”
Bloomberg, Oct. 2018 - Company Overview of Happy Returns, Inc.
Blackfriday.com, Nov. 2018 - Holiday Shopping and Spending Survey Data 2018

Information shared in this post is in no way a guarantee of services or an endorsement of any retailer or entity. Rules and restrictions are varied and complex and subject to change at any time. Check with the retailer for their current return policy.

Lissa Fenix
Marketing Analyst ~ ConnectShip | iShip
Lissa is a Marketing Analyst. She has 15+ years of experience in technology related analysis work, with the last 5 years spent at ConnectShip| iShip. She enjoys the arts, watching documentaries, volunteering, spending time with friends and family, and movie/popcorn time with her rescue dog at her home near Seattle, WA.