Apple Invests In Expedited Refunds In Hopes Of Boosting Online Sales, Cuts Wait Time In Half

Attention online shoppers, Apple really wants your business, and one way it plans to get it is by cutting in half the wait time to give refunds to customers who want to return their iPhone, iPad, and other devices. This sounds like a small thing -- and for the consumer, it sort of is -- but it's actually a costly move for Apple, one that's motivated by trying to steer customers away from the competition, namely Amazon and Best Buy.

Citing retail intelligence company StellaService, Reuters says customers who buy a device from Apple's online portal can receive a refund in less than a week, whereas previously the wait time was 10 days. This is the result of Apple switching to an expedited service, FedEx 2Day, which allows customers to return devices to Apple's warehouse within three days using prepaid labels.

Apple Returns

"This is the first time we're seeing an investment like this on the returns side," Reuters quotes Kevon Hills, StellaService's vice president of research, as saying.

Researchers at the retail intelligence company first noticed the expedited refund service back in November, but at the time, it thought the move was just a temporary one to cope with the hectic holiday shopping season, which is always a busy time of the year for Apple. However, Apple's still using FedEx 2Day.

Again, this isn't exactly a game changer, but it is one of several moves having a positive effect on online sales. To wit, Apple's online sales jumped 24 percent to $18.3 billion last year. Not too shabby.