The logo of United Parcel Service, the world's largest package delivery company is pictured on a truck on the Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris, FranceUPS, Paris, France - 20 Sep 2017

Returns are always a point of concern for retailers — but, as retail enters a new year, that statement will ring especially true.

UPS said 1.4 million returns are to be expected on its National Returns Day, forecasted to fall on Jan. 3. And, according to the company, that number would mark a fifth consecutive annual record and would be up 8 percent from the year before.

The company noted that, in December, more than one million returns took place each day leading up to Christmas, and it expects the frenetic pace to continue into the beginning of 2018. UPS said “record-breaking” Black Friday and Cyber Week e-commerce sales kicked off holiday returns season, with an increasing number of packages going back to retailers, suggesting that the expansion of e-commerce is fueling more returns.

Alan Gershenhorn, chief commercial officer at UPS, shared his thoughts. “While the day after Christmas used to be reserved for long return lines at department stores, the growth of e-commerce has changed when and how consumers return gifts,” he said. “A customer-friendly returns program is now an essential part of any successful e-commerce program, and UPS continues to expand its suite of innovative solutions to help shippers. This season, UPS added ‘returns manager,’ a free platform that allows e-commerce merchants to customize return shipments according to their e-tailer policy.”

UPS noted that, as a result of increased returns, some businesses have added or expanded returns offerings. And, from what the company described, these moves may prove to be key.

“A simple and speedy experience should be part of the retailer’s toolkit to help increase customer loyalty while managing the cost of processing these returns,” Gershenhorn said. “UPS offers a portfolio of technology-driven returns services that help retailers deliver a premium experience.”

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