Editor’s note: If you haven’t yet, read our piece on creating a great returns policy. If you decide to go forward with customer-initiated returns, this blog will be waiting for you!
If you have an open and free returns policy, there’s a good chance you’re open to customer-initiated returns. That’s a very good thing. Customer-initiated returns, beyond being a major convenience for you and your customers, speaks to your confidence in your product. It shows that you trust your customers, too, and aren’t trying to discourage returns or make the process overly complicated.
So what exactly are customer-initiated returns? The simple answer: allowing your customer to create a return label without you or your staff getting involved. Zappos—whose returns policy we adore—has their customers log in to their account, where the customer can create a pre-paid label then and there.
But what if you don’t have the infrastructure of Zappos? What if you can’t build out a system as robust as theirs, to automate the returns process? That would seemingly put you at a substantial disadvantage.
Except ShipStation believes in the democratization of shipping. We think any and every e-commerce, regardless of their size, should have access to the best tools. Enter ShipStation’s Branded Returns Portal. c vbnm
Tied to our Branded Tracking Page, the Returns Portal is customized to match your design and brand aesthetic: your colors, logo, etc.. Your Branded Tracking Page will have a link to the Returns Portal so that, should something go wrong with their order, your customer already has a link to start the returns process.
The customer clicks through to the portal, they just need to enter their order number and zip code. ShipStation will automatically fetch their order information and display it. The customer will then select the item they need to return, the quantity, and perhaps most importantly (for your records and reporting), the reason for the return.
We covered the what behind ShipStation’s customer-initiated returns so now let’s dig in to the how.
First of all, you need to set-up your branding in ShipStation. You can access that in ShipStation, under Account Settings > Branding. This is where you’ll input your website, logo, social media accounts, colors, etc.. We have an article from our knowledge base that digs in to the entire process—we recommend clicking here to get to work on setting up your branding.
Next, you need to enable the Returns Portal on your stores. Like the Branded Tracking Page, if you have multiple stores connected to ShipStation, you can pick and choose which ones get the Returns Portal. You might’ve guessed, but we have another article to help you through this process. You can check that out by clicking here.
The Editor’s Note Strikes Back: One item to take note of while you set up your Returns Portal: Setting your returns carrier and service. Are you going to choose a cost-effective service or one that gets the product back to you ASAP? We recommend cost-effective: USPS Parcel Select or First Class Mail if your products are all under 16 oz.
Now you just need to get the Returns Portal out to your customers. We recommend using the Branded Tracking Page as your delivery method. Why? Brand consistency. The Branded Tracking Page keeps your customer’s traffic on your page, not a carrier’s. The Returns Portal being available through this page means you don’t have bother your customers with a separate email—it’s all there in your tracking and/or delivery email!