Printing Return Labels and Creating a Returns Strategy

June 2, 2021

Returns are an unfortunate part of any ecommerce business. No one wants to do returns. Customers have an item that doesn’t fit their needs. They hurt a business’s bottom line. However, having a seamless strategy for printing return labels is a great way to cut down on processing time and find the most cost-effective ways for your customers to return their items. 

Efficient returns fulfillment not only saves money, but it also encourages greater sales. 54% of American consumers factor the cost and ease of returns into where they buy their online orders from. This is true even if they don’t have any intention of returning the item. Because returns are so important, it’s crucial that you make it easy and efficient for any future or recurring customer. 

How to Create Return Labels 

Creating a return label can be done in a few ways. You can either create it yourself and email it to the customer. You can include a prepaid/pay-on-use label with the outbound parcel. You can also have a customer send a return back from a carrier facility. The final option is to just give the customer a self-service option. This is usually the easiest option for you to offer your customers. 

Types of Return Labels

Pay-on-Use Return Labels

Pay-on-use return labels are exactly what they sound like—you only pay for them if you use them. These are generally only available through invoicing carriers such as FedEx or UPS. Some USPS account types offer this, but it is rare and usually only reserved for really high-volume accounts. 

USPS Return Labels

USPS returns are usually the easiest for customers to drop off. However, they do have a few caveats that make them more difficult than UPS or FedEx. Almost every USPS option will be prepaid. This means you have to pay to generate the label regardless if the customer uses the label or not. However, USPS return shipping is generally quite simple to initiate since they are affordable for small parcels. Additionally, post offices make it easy for your customers to return items. With many locations, even the most rural customer can find a convenient place to generate return labels.

FedEx and UPS Return Labels

UPS return labels and FedEx return labels offer an advantage over USPS—pay-on-use returns. This allows merchants who deal with a high volume of returns to include the return label in the box with the outbound shipment. 

How to Print International Return Labels 

International returns are a commonly requested feature of carriers and merchants. However, due to differences in countries’ custom forms, differences in carrier services, and other cross-border limitations, they are difficult to offer. As such, most international returns require a bit more communication between merchants and customers. However, if this is clearly outlined at checkout, and a good returns strategy is in place, it can be simpler. 

Canadian customers shop from the US frequently, and our cross-border shipping is streamlined and affordable. But there are still caveats. Customs fees can rack up quickly. Sometimes, it’s just simpler and more affordable to offer a partial refund and let the customer keep the item. 

Offering Returns

Return Policy

Ecommerce shopping has become so hassle-free that customers and retailers alike have become accustomed to not having to actually communicate with the other party. This has become so commonplace that it is extending to returns.

Creating a winning returns policy doesn’t have to break the bank, and again, customers will check a website’s return policy before placing an order. Generally, 14-day, 30-day, or 60-day return policies are what merchants offer. This return window increases some during the holiday season too. 

Self-Service Returns 

Self-service returns are a favorite among customers. Instead of having to deal with long wait times or waiting for you or someone on your team to generate and send them the label, you give them the option to create the return label without reaching out to you. Or, at most, they get email authorization containing a link to initiate the return. We found that 81% of customers prefer the option to print the label at home over going to a carrier facility to print one.
Free Returns vs Charging for Returns

Obviously, customers prefer free returns. However, it’s not always possible to offer. Unless items can be returned using something affordable like USPS First Class Mail, free returns can affect profit margins, making it too expensive to offer. A key reason Amazon wins customers is their commitment to “The customer is right.” This is why many merchants don’t list their highest-cost or heaviest items on Amazon or similar marketplaces. So if you can’t offer returns for free, find a way you can offer returns affordably!

Flat-Rate Returns

Customers hate surprises. This is why offering easy-to-understand flat-rate returns may be the simplest option. Something like $5 returns that gets deducted from a refund can be a good compromise. But, the customer first needs to know they are getting a complete refund on the item cost.