The holidays are the season of giving – and returning. A new survey from Amazon and Maru Public Opinion shows that one-in-three (36%) Canadians return or exchange holiday gifts each year. Here are some tips on how to make the process seamless, while getting a peek behind the curtain at how these returned items get a second life at Amazon.

Why Do Gifts Get Returned?

Based on the Maru Public Opinion survey, for those Canadians who would return an unwanted holiday gift, the primary reasons for doing so include 'not finding it useful' (75%), 'already owning a similar item' (60%), and 'receiving the wrong size' (60%). Canadians typically choose to exchange or return unwanted gifts (31%) or pass them on to someone who might appreciate or use them (19%).

Gift Receipts Make Canadians Happy during the Holidays

Being a thoughtful gift giver involves more than just selecting the perfect present; it also means including a gift receipt. This considerate gesture not only simplifies the return process but also ensures that your loved ones have the option to choose something that truly delights them. In fact, nearly all Canadians (90%) appreciate finding a gift receipt enclosed, especially when the gift isn't quite right for them.

Fun Fact:

Did you forget to give a gift receipt? No problem! Simply give the order number of your gift and your loved one can initiate a hassle-free return.

Making Returns a Joyful Journey

Canadians often consider the time and effort involved when deciding whether to return or exchange an unwanted gift. Key factors influencing their decision include concerns about return shipping fees charged by stores (79%), the hassle of returning or exchanging a gift without a gift receipt (76%), the inconvenience of a return location (71%), and the effort required to package and mail a return (64%).

However, Amazon offers hassle-free returns with no shipping fees and provides convenient and more sustainable return options. 

This guide aims to streamline the return process for a more effortless experience:

  1. Start our Return: Visit
  2. Answer with Ease: Enter the order number on your gift receipt and answer a few quick questions, pick a carrier that is convenient to you.
  3. Go Label-Free or Traditional: At Amazon, customers can choose between eco-friendly, label-free, box-free drop-offs for returns. Opt for a barcode with a box-free return, or stick with a classic shipping label.
  4. Final Stop – The Drop Off: Drop off your package at the carrier's nearest location, then it’s up, up, and away to an Amazon Return Center! You can also schedule a pick up for most items from your home.

And here's some holiday cheer: Amazon has extended the return window until January 31st, 2024, for most items. No rush, just peace and joy! 

Fun Facts:

  • Did you know Amazon's bubble wrap envelopes can be resealed for returns? They’re a gift that keeps on giving - perfect for recycling or reusing for your own return journey!
  • When using boxes, minimizing tape use keeps your returns eco-friendly, neat and tidy.

The Reverse Journey of Your Package

Upon arriving at one of Amazon’s hybrid return facilities, your returned package undergoes a meticulous process where it is first scanned, inspected and all customer personal information is removed. Based on its condition, the item may then take various paths: it could be donated, recycled, or re-sold. 

Sergent Shaun Stanley

Collaborating closely with local charities, Amazon Canada made a significant impact in 2022 by donating millions of dollars’ worth of returned items to various charitable organizations across the country. This process not only ensures the efficient use of returned goods but also contributes positively to local communities.

Return Centers: Canada’s Unsung Heroes

Just in time for the holiday season, Amazon Canada has made a strategic investment of $8.1 million to transform its 500k sq foot site in Mississauga, the company's inaugural fulfilment centre in Canada established in 2011, into the nation's first facility exclusively dedicated to processing customer returns. 

Ops Manager Fadi Farran preparing items for donation
Operations Manager, Fadi Ferran prepares items for donation

This revamped site now hosts 800 full-time employees who are engaged in various specialized tasks that range from grading customer returns and assessing warehouse deals to managing the inbound and outbound logistics. This development not only enhances Amazon’s return process efficiency but also creates substantial employment opportunities in the region.

An advanced robotics upgrade at YYZ1

"Here at Amazon's first dedicated Returns Centre in Mississauga, we're thrilled to embark on this holiday season with a renewed spirit of service and efficiency. Our team is fully committed to transforming the return process into a seamless and positive experience for our customers,” said Marissa Smith, Mississauga Site Leader. “This year, especially, we understand the importance of flexibility and choice in holiday shopping and returns. We are excited to offer our customers the most efficient and more sustainable return options available. It's our goal to ensure that every customer who needs to make a return feels supported and satisfied with their experience. So, as we gear up for the busiest time of the year, we're not just processing returns; we're delivering peace of mind and holiday cheer!"

Survey Methodology
This Maru Public Opinion survey conducted on behalf of Amazon was undertaken by the sample and data collection experts at Maru/Blue. 1530 randomly selected adult Canadians and are Maru Voice Canada online panelists were surveyed from November 27th to November 28th 2023. The results of this study have been weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Canada. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals when compared to the data tables are due to rounding.