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  January 11th, 2016 | Written by

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  • Record number of returned packages handled on January 6, National Returns Day.
  • UPS survey shows returns experiences influence purchase decisions for two-thirds of consumers.
  • As online shopping volumes grow globally, so do returns volumes.

With consumers breaking online shopping records, post-holiday merchandise returns and exchanges extended the holiday peak shipping season into the New Year.

National Returns Day was January 6, 2016, when consumers shipped an estimated one-million plus packages back to retailers on that single day. By the end of the first week of January, over 5 million returns packages were estimated to have been handled—500,000 more than last year.

According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, 45 percent of consumers have returned an item by shipping it back to a retailer. Forty-two percent of those said they made a new online purchase during the process.

“As online shopping volumes grow globally, so do returns volumes,” said Teresa Finley, UPS senior vice president of global marketing. “Online shoppers tell us they want free, fast and easy returns. We help our customers provide flexible options that create revenue and attract potential buyers.”

Returns now play an important role in purchasing decisions as two-thirds of consumers said they look at a retailer’s return policy before they complete an order. Consumers also want a hassle-free returns experience: 66 percent want free returns shipping and 47 percent want an easy-to-print return label.

UPS research also revealed an appealing returns policy has the power to attract customers and that many retailers need improvement. Only 32 percent of retailers offered free returns and less than half specified a merchandise exchange timeline on their website, which is a key component of the return policy that is viewed by 88 percent of online shoppers.

UPS offers a variety of returns solutions for merchants. Some retailers provide return labels within outbound shipments, while others have technology that allows them to offer a consumer credit or refund as soon as the item is scanned into the UPS network.