Why on-demand delivery is a necessity in online shopping

Your guide to managing returns on Shopify


Written by Starshipit

Let's face it. Returns can be a challenge when running an eCommerce business, adding yet another task to your to-do list.

But effectively managing returns can add another feather to your cap and give your eCommerce business a point of difference. And, with the right software solutions in place, you can reduce the pain of manual returns to the point where it’s just another part of doing business.

In this article, we’ll explore the state of returns today, the best options for efficient returns, the Shopify returns process and how you can make the process easier with powerful fulfilment automation software. Let’s dive in!

The state of eCommerce returns

Whether you like it or not, customers return products – and the number is climbing. A 2021 report from IMRG found that a quarter of all consumers return between 5 and 15 percent of the products they buy online.

Another survey noted that most customers also check returns policies before making a purchase, with 40 percent of those respondents saying they wouldn’t order a product unless the returns period was at least 30 days. A substantial 74 percent said they wouldn’t place an order if they had to pay for their own return.

And, back in 2020, the NRF estimated the cost of holiday returns alone to be around $101 billion. Yes, billion with a ‘B’.

Your returns policy matters

How Amazon handles returns

The world’s big retailers have already recognised the writing on the wall. Amazon offers extended return periods during the peak season, meaning products purchased from October through December could be returned up until the end of January.

While it may seem impossible to keep up with the likes of Amazon, there’s a lot you can do – even if you’re running a very small eCommerce business – to ensure returns aren’t a pain point, for you or your customers.

The best options for returns

Whether you’re thinking about your Shopify returns process or just returns in general, here are a few of our top tips to make the returns process as efficient as possible.

  • Create a returns policy – and make it visible! – Crafting a clear returns policy can be enough to switch a website user from prospect to customer, alleviating their concerns about the difficulty of returning a product. Just make sure it’s visible across your website, including the product page, in the checkout process and in the footer.
  • Consider fulfilment automation software – Using a piece of shipping automation software can make the process of returns easier for your customers and staff. For example, Starshipit has a returns portal that lets you apply your own custom branding and even allows customers to self-service their returns.
  • Include returns labels with each order – This can add some admin up front, but it’s a good way to let customers know that if they have an issue, they can easily send a product back to you.

The Shopify returns process

We’ve talked generally about the importance of managing returns – but what about Shopify returns?

Thankfully, Shopify has a robust system for handling returns and refunds.

  • Create returns – You can create returns from existing orders that have at least one fulfilled line item that has not yet been refunded. If no line items have been fulfilled, it's better to refund and restock the order instead.
  • Filter orders by return status – You can filter your orders by return status on the Orders page.
  • Cancel returns – If you create a return by accident or a customer has changed their mind about a return, you can cancel the return you created.
  • Refund orders – When you refund orders, you return the payment to the customer. You can refund orders either entirely or in part. You can refund orders without creating a return but note that you can't create a return after you’ve issued a refund. In some circumstances, you can cancel an order and issue a refund.
  • Restock orders – If you don’t have a payment to refund for an order, you can restock the items without creating a return or a refund.
  • Mark orders as returned – Once you’ve created a return, received the items and refunded their payment, the order is complete. If you restock the item, the order is automatically closed. If you chose not to restock the item, you can mark the order as returned.
  • Review order transaction history – You can view a detailed transaction history for each order in the Timeline section of the order overview page.

You can read the detailed instructions for these processes on the Shopify Help Centre.

Of course, if you’re looking for more out of your returns process, you might want to try using fulfilment automation software, like Starshipit. In addition to returns, opting for shipping software also gives you a range of other benefits, including simple integrations with your couriers and platforms and a single dashboard view of all your orders.

Returns with Starshipit

Fulfilment automation software – like Starshipit – can simplify the returns process for your eCommerce business, making things easier for both your staff and your customers.

Starshipit includes options for both manual returns (where you process the return) as well as self-service returns (where customers can process their own returns through a branded returns portal.

Using a branded, self-service returns portal has several key benefits:

  • Reduce support queries – When customers can self-service returns, that’s one less call or email that comes through to your support team, allowing them to focus on more urgent issues.
  • Increase your sales – Customers are more likely to make a purchase when they know they can easily arrange a return if a product isn’t suitable. This is also a win for the customer experience.
  • Understand why returns happen – Track why customers return items so you can identify common themes.

You can also customise the returns portal to suit your unique requirements. For example, you might want to use the rules engine to ensure your portal mirrors what’s in your returns policy (like rejecting certain SKUs). You may also want to send branded emails and SMS notifications throughout the returns process to keep customers in the loop.

Interested in the other features of a branded returns portal? Check out this article on our Support Centre for a full list of features.

Wrap up and next steps

And that’s returns! Whether you’re running an eCommerce business and needing to manage Shopify returns or you use another solution, there’s a lot you can do to ensure returns doesn’t come a time or cost sink for your business.

If you’re interested in learning more about Starshipit’s branded returns portal, or just fulfilment automation in general, get in touch with our friendly team or start your 30-day free trial today.

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