It likely will come as no surprise to the high-tech and electronics industry that electronic equipment is the second highest consumer returns category after apparel. Now, with the 2012 holiday shopping season behind them, many electronics retailers and manufacturers are experiencing one of the highest volumes of returns they are likely to see all year long, during the month of January alone.
In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to return nearly $63 billion worth of holiday gifts this year — equivalent to nearly a quarter of all the merchandise that is returned to retailers in a typical 12-month period.
Thanks to dramatic growth in online shopping, many returns will be shipped back to retailers and manufacturers versus being returned in-store. The highest volume post-holiday shipping day for returns for UPS was January 7, 2013, a day UPS has dubbed National Returns Day, when the company shipped more than 520,000 packages back to retailers. During that first week of January, UPS shipped more than 2 million packages back to retailers — many of these were electronics products.
There is no better time than the month of National Returns Day and the beginning of a new year for electronics retailers and manufacturers to focus on their returns process to prepare for the next big season as well as year-round reverse logistics and returns initiatives. Ignoring the importance of returns could result in lost customers, lost profits, lost business value, and potential liabilities. On the other hand, by improving returns, companies can benefit from both increased profits and happier customers.
In a coming blog I will focus on two key imperatives for electronics companies: how to reclaim value on the back-end through the reverse logistics process and how to improve the overall customer experience through a positive returns experience.