How to Print Return Labels

Published on November 30, 2023
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Filed under Shipping Basics
Read time 10 Minutes

It is easy to look at returns as just a headache. In an ideal world, neither merchants nor customers would have any need for them. Because ecommerce typically lacks a physical shopping experience, returns come with the territory. Online shopping has become so standard and efficient that customers expect return labels to be simple. They not only expect it to be simple, it also needs to be offered affordably or free. Having a way for customers to conveniently return their orders to you is something that can make you stand apart as a top-tier business. 

There are a few different ways to print return labels. Some ways of printing them are simpler than others. Some are also more expensive. We’ll explore all the requirements for printing return labels and more, such as the different types of returns, and the steps for printing returns for various carriers and how ShipStation can help simplify return shipping.

Did you know that 2/3rds of customers check a merchant’s return policy before placing an order?

How to Include Return Labels with an Outgoing Order

Pay-on-use return labels are labels that are paid for by the sender if the label is used to return an item. These labels are often provided by the merchant or company as a convenience to the customer. Common ways to charge the customer for return shipping costs include deducting the cost of the label from the refund. Carriers that offer pay-on-use labels are FedEx and UPS. 

Pay-Upon-Creation Return Labels

Pay-upon-creation return labels are labels that are paid for by the sender at the time the label is created. These are commonly used by carriers that charge for labels at the time of creation as opposed to post-billing ones. So USPS or services provided by ShipStation Carrier Services will utilize pay-upon-creation labels.

Merchants Sending Return Labels vs Customers Printing Return Labels

There is no standard for how merchants provide return labels to customers. Customers and merchants have varying preferences. In some cases, merchants will provide return labels for their customers to use. Once you generate the customer’s return label, email the label to the customer so they can print it out at home and drop off the parcel at a carrier facility. 

In other cases, customers may be required to generate their own return labels. This is usually the case when a customer is returning a partial order since the weight of the return shipment is lighter than the outbound. In these instances, merchants may reimburse the cost of the label or provide additional store credit when issuing a refund. 

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Offering Free Return Shipping 

75% of consumers expect free return shipping when they shop online. While offering free returns—as well as free outbound shipping—can be expensive, it can be the make-or-break factor for many shoppers. To offer free return shipping without cutting too far into profits requires finding the most affordable way to ship. Offering free shipping also requires an effective returns policy

Requirements for Printing Return Labels for Ecommerce Platforms

Regardless of where you sell, you can create all your returns with ShipStation. If you need to print a return label for your storefront or marketplace, these are the steps for printing return labels for some of the most popular ecommerce platforms. 

  • Amazon Return Labels: These are customer-initiated and require buyers to log into their customer portal to start the returns process
  • Ebay Return Labels: Ebay offers merchants ways to accept and handle returns. Simply log into your portal to begin the returns process
  • Wix Return Labels: With Wix, you can authorize a refund through your Wix dashboard. You will need to produce your own return label through the shipping program you used. Here is how to create a return label in ShipStation. 
  • Big Cartel Return Labels: For Big Cartel, you can authorize a refund through your store portal and then create the return label through the shipping platform you used to create the label. Big Cartel also has this helpful guide for creating a shipping and return policy. A shipping app like ShipStation provides you with the full suite of outbound and return shipping services you need to start selling more quickly. 
  • Shopify Return Labels: Shopify offers its merchants efficient ways to authorize returns, refund, and help customers return items. To read how to create return labels for Shopify orders through ShipStation, read our Shopify Merchant’s Guide
  • WooCommerce Return Labels: WooCommerce offers ways to provide refunds, but return labels will need to be created through the shipping platform you use such as ShipStation. 
  • BigCommerce Return Labels: BigCommerce allows you to natively generate return labels through your store portal. They even offer ways for customers to request a return for your store. But they also allow you to generate returns through their shipping partners like ShipStation
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How to Print Return Labels in ShipStation

How ShipStation Helps with Returns

As mentioned above, the outbound shipment and return shipment may need different services. In these instances, you may find that you need to use an entirely different carrier for the return shipment. This is where a multi-carrier shipping program like ShipStation helps. You can save more money and print more quickly—whether it’s returns, outbound shipments, or fulfillments! 

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Save Big on Return Labels and Outbound Shipments with ShipStation

The simplest way to reduce return shipping costs is to make shipping labels more affordable. Paying post office rates or sending your customers to print the label themself can be time-consuming and cause dissatisfied customers. ShipStation offers shipping discounts of up to 89% for USPS, UPS, DHL Express, and many more carriers thanks to our ShipStation Carrier Services.

ShipStation’s Return Portal

As ecommerce shopping simplifies for customers, they have the growing expectation that returns should also be simpler. Luckily, ShipStation has found a way to make returns easy for you and your customers. Did you know that 2/3rds of customers check a merchant’s return policy before placing an order? That’s why we offer a returns portal that you can send to your customers once they’re ready to print a return label.

ShipStation Makes Tracking Returns Simpler

Whether you used UPS, USPS, or FedEx to generate your return label, having a place to keep track of your return shipments progress eases you and your customers’ anxiety. You can easily view the returns and any outbound shipment within ShipStation. Whether outbound or return shipping, we have you covered to save time and money on shipping. Whether you want to include a return label automatically or create it manually, you have the power to create a fulfillment workflow that fits your needs and budget! 

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Written by

James Messer

James Messer is a copywriter specializing in shipping, logistics, and ecommerce.

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