As retailers start to work on their plans for Black Friday 2017, an even more overwhelming deadline looms.

In fact, it’s almost the direct result of the intense competition eCommerce business owners have drummed up over cheap deals for holiday gifts and an increasing reliance on online shopping during the winter. That big day is known as National Returns Day.

National Returns Day in a Nutshell

In the same way that Black Friday is a big deal for outbound 3rd party logistics firms, National Returns Day is a giant event for returns management departments.

This date marks the day in the yearly retail cycle when UPS returns the most packages to businesses. In 2017, that was January 5, but it always appears in the first week of January. This year, 1.3 million returns were shipped back to their origination points because they were the wrong size, wrong color or were just entirely wrong.

What’s more is that first week of January actually totaled 5.8 million return packages this year. No matter the size of your business, that’s a huge amount of orders to reprocess, repackage and return to your sales systems. National Returns Day will push your reverse logistics team to its limits, and if you’ve prepped well, your team will make it look easy.

You can get ready for National Returns Day today by implementing some good returns practices now, including:

  • Offering free returns. Free returns are becoming a bigger and bigger concern for online shoppers, even though only about 44 percent have returned an online purchase in the last year, according to UPS.Well over half (60 percent) of respondents listed free return shipping as a vital part of their shopping experience. Free returns ensure you get to pick the shipper and your package is handled in the way you’d prefer.
  • Establishing a hassle-free returns policy. Although it’s a very good idea to get some sense of what’s wrong with any return, there’s a lot to be said about making returns easy.Since 45 percent of shoppers made an additional purchase last year when returning items, it should go without saying that turning them off of buying again is counterproductive.
  • Making it easy to find a return label. Having a return label included in each box or allowing customers to print their own is more than a convenience for them, it’s a convenience for your returns management team.This way, all returns labels are in the same format, speeding up the returns process and getting re-sellable items back on the market quickly.

This year when you plan your Black Friday sales events, remember that what goes out sometimes comes back in. Having a plan for the glut of packages you’ll get around National Returns Day not only makes your company look like a superstar when it comes to customer service, it saves you big money, too!