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Self-Service Returns:
6 Tips to Implement
Them in 2023

Learn about self-service returns and how you can effectively implement a self-service return center for eCommerce business success!


The process of self-service returns is very straightforward! One that your customer can easily follow to submit a return request, generate a return shipping label automatically, and get notified as soon as their refund is issued. It’s perfect for the customer, automatic for your support team, and fast for everyone involved!


Have you ever gone to a website in search of assistance?


Whether it was to check your account, look for information, get answers to questions you have, or change your order details — and received the help you needed without speaking to another person?


Today’s customers demand fast responses and solutions — nobody wants to wait around for a support person to email them.


You may have thought that the only solution is to hire an entire team for customer service, maybe even overseas to cover different time zones, but this entire strategy comes with its own challenges, training, price, etc. Rather than that, what about building a smaller, competent group of representatives that’s fewer in number but compensated by your web-based self-service initiatives?


That being said, just like your website doesn’t need a customer support team to take orders, your return process should be the same: easy, fast, and intuitive for the customer to figure it out on their own, without your help or assistance. If you can use online software on your own to file taxes— that is, after all, a tremendously complicated procedure your customers should be able to return a product by themselves as well, right?


In fact, companies just like yours have been using self-service returns solutions for a long time! Not only does web-based self-service empower your consumers to quickly discover the information they need, but it’s also a very cost-effective way for your business to operate. You won’t have to pay a team of reps to provide your consumers with the 24/7 assistance they seek. Instead, you may hire a competent group of representatives that’s fewer in number but compensated by your web-based self-service initiatives.


When you offer self-service returns, you enable the customer to simply look up their order, select the item(s) they want to return, select how they would like to get refunded, and automatically get a free return label that they can use to send the package all the way back to you.


That being said, it’s reasonable to assume that self-service returns are the king of eCommerce return processes when it comes to increasing convenience and efficiency for you and your consumers.


Let’s take a closer look at what a successful self-service return center is and how to put it into action for your company.


“But my business is much more complicated!” Right? We know that, when it comes to returns, there’s no one-size-fits-all, but let us walk you through this article to show you exactly how self-service returns can improve your returns process, so let’s go!

How do self-service returns work?


Self-service online returns make it convenient for customers to return an item without requiring assistance from customer service representatives.


They can look up and complete their returns using a self-service returns portal, which allows them to manage their returns without the assistance or involvement of the company. Customers can use the site to submit a return request. They’ll fill out a form with their order number or email, choose the items they want to send back, and then get a return shipping label to print at home, or even better-a QR code.


Customers can also record a reason for their return and provide critical feedback for your company.

Why a self-service return process is a must-have in 2023


Generally speaking, self-service arrangements can save money by avoiding the higher staffing costs of hiring people dedicated to solving customer problems. Automating the returns process can save you precious resources, and a significant number of businesses worldwide seized the occasion and acted accordingly. More specifically, the percentage of companies that have fully automated at least one function has grown more modestly, from 29% in 2018 to 31% in 2020.

 60% of consumers say they prefer using digital self-help tools to contacting a customer service representative directly? When you’re shopping online, a self-service return center is just what your customers need for a quick and effective returns process. Offering a variety of return options from which customers can choose the one that better fits their needs can even increase brand loyalty and help you establish trust-based relationships. Enabling them to opt for self-service returns at home or in-store gives them the flexibility, convenience, and efficiency they want, and that will keep them making business with you!


Bonus Points: Simply by providing self-service return alternatives, you will deliver a superior experience and build trust with your customers. This is because, you’re freeing them to get answers and assistance when they need it, on their own time and terms. By doing so, you show your customers that they are valued, which helps you build strong connections and a sense of trust between your brand and customers.

digital self help like more than customer service representatives

Benefits of self-service returns for your business

  • Save your customer service precious time.
  • Fewer support queries, cutting down on support costs
  • Increased customer retention and loyalty by providing a variety of return options
  • Drive traffic back to your website
  • More chances of future purchases via opportunities such as cashback or coupons that can be applied towards any online order later on down the road

When using WeSupply, your customers also have options for self-service returns online through our return center, including the ability to customize your eCommerce return policy based on a category, attribute, or item level and clearly communicate your policy on a variety of channels. This is particularly useful when dealing with flash sales, foreign consumers, or faulty items.


Creating a branded returns page can also help you establish trust-based relationships and drive brand recognition.

Self-service return workflow: Ways to return online purchases


When it comes to self-service returns, there are a couple of ways to proceed. In fact, there are self-service returns, where customers do the return for you, and there are in-store returns, which is when you provide a physical storefront to get items returned.


Online return center 

If customers opt to return their purchases online, they will be directed to your returns center, which should be accessible on your website or via a link in their confirmation email.

Customers can start the process by entering their online order number and selecting which products they wish to return or exchange. The return request will be authorized manually or automatically – setting return reasons and rules. WeSupply enables you to create custom return logics to ensure an effective workflow that is not subject to return abuse or fraud and that increases the chances of repeat purchases.


In-store returns

Self-service return drop-offs are gaining popularity in brick and mortar, despite their early start as a service. This is due, in part, to the COVID-19 epidemic and merchants’ efforts to minimize bottlenecks at checkouts.

Consumers appear to be advocates of this change, with all indicators pointing that they embrace it enthusiastically. With nearly a fifth of customers reporting that they wouldn’t buy from a store that doesn’t allow in-store returns, 40% of consumers feel that returning items in-store is simpler.


What is the difference between self-service online returns and in-store returns? 

It’s simple! Self-service online returns are shipped back to our distribution centers by customers using RMA software. The in-store self-service returns process starts upon arrival at the customer service desk of a store. Customers bring boxes, packaging material, and any other supplies needed to safely pack and ship their order back to your warehouse or other collecting locations.

6 tips for implementing a self-service returns process

There’s no doubt that returns are part of any eCommerce business: what matters is how you deal with your returns.

Below we discuss 5 essential tips that to help you effectively implement a self-service return system that will ease your customers’ anxiety and relieve some of the pressure from your customer support representatives!

Can’t get enough of self-service returns tips & tricks?

Check out our must-read free guide “How To Implement Self-Service Returns” for more!

Can't get enough of self-service returns tips & tricks?

Check out our must-read free guide “How To Implement Self-Service Returns” for more!

self service returns
self service returns

Can't get enough of self-service returns tips & tricks?

1. Understand Manageable and Unmanageable Returns


Returns can cost you money or customers, so it’s critical to take all possible measures to prevent them. This implies knowing what you can influence and what you cannot.


  • Manageable returns are those that may be reduced or avoided if the logistics processes behind them were improved. This covers things like checking for incorrect product descriptions, damaged packaging, incorrect delivery estimation, and poor order management.
  • Unmanageable returns are those that you typically can’t do anything about. For example, when a buyer purchases a product, but then has a change of heart through no fault of the seller.

Understanding what you’re up against might help you to consider more comprehensive product descriptions that include photos, alternative packing materials, a different courier, or an alternate inventory management system. What you can do if returns are unmanageable is to optimize the process as far as possible to save time and money.


2. Return policy for transparency


If you own an eCommerce business, chances are good that customers have returned purchases in your lifetime. In fact, a study shows that, with a product return rate of 30 percent, that by 2023, retailers can expect 13 billion units – worth $573 billion – to be returned annually. Moreover, 120 billion dollars in returned goods from Thanksgiving to January 2023 alone. This means that, without an official return policy in place, you might encounter a series of challenges down the road!

retailers return numbers expectations

Many online retailers offer in-store return policies in an attempt to improve customer satisfaction. According to Pitney Bowes, 54% of buyers are unlikely to buy a product they want if the retailer has a poor or unclear return policy. However, online returns are more complicated than in-store returns due to the potential for fraud in shipping and replacing products. A return policy is important in managing online retailer customer expectations. Customers who are aware of how to return an item should be able to do so with ease, while those who are unaware of how to handle returns might take their complaints elsewhere if they feel like it is too much work, adding more weight to your support team.


But in order to successfully compete in today’s online stores market, companies should provide clear information about the return process in every instance. For example, London Drugs provides a list of restrictions to their Return and Exchanges Policy, that allows them to set the right expectations from the beginning:

london drugs returns restrictions

To learn more about return policies and how to effectively create your own, check out our article, 8 Steps To A Killer Return Center Page.



3. Return location: offering multiple options for convenience


Customers often have difficulty returning an item purchased online for a number of reasons: not wanting to pay return shipping costs, inconvenient or unclear return policies, or needing to wait in long lines. Online retailers are looking for ways to ease these concerns and one way they’re doing this is by offering in-store returns. To alleviate this issue, some retailers have implemented curbside returns, which give customers another option for dropping off their package at a local store location. The self-service kiosks, popularized by eCommerce giants such as Amazon, are also common self-return methods.


One surefire way to increase customer retention rate is by offering in-store returns, and a prepaid or scan-based return shipping label for contactless returns. This leads to a better customer experience that will drive future sales to your both online and physical stores, while contactless returns ensure safety for everyone involved.



4. Instant store credit: convenient and effective


A significant advantage over offering refunds is that for both in-store and online self-service returns, you can issue instant credit coupons that can be used on future orders. Online store credit is one of many self-service features that help you to save time and improve the customer experience. In fact, issuing self-service credit coupons as part of self-service return refunds comes with a significant number of advantages for both customers and online store owners. More than 90% of consumers have used coupons at some point.

coupons returns

When customers return items using self-service methods, you might consider allowing automatic refunds online if it makes sense for your business model. If your RMA system allows them, you may also want to consider issuing instant store credit instead of refunding the funds back to the customer’s original payment method.


Although instant refunds may not be appropriate for every return, they do offer a number of benefits. In addition to being instantaneous, instant credit coupons can provide peace of mind for returners by giving them a choice rather than having a return processed as a store credit return.


Using self-service returns is fast, easy, convenient, and ensures customers receive a full or partial refund for their purchase, depending on the circumstances. Certain RMA systems enable you to preset the amount to be refunded or manually authorize the refund, but also online instant store credit.


Issuing instant store credit is not as time-consuming for customers as waiting for refund money to return to their bank accounts. For the returned items, shoppers can request instant store credit coupons and proceed with another purchase.

instant credit returns

With our powerful API, WeSupply can effectively integrate with your ERP, OMS, and POS system, import all store orders, and provide the customer a simple self-service return process, even helping you create better retail management when it comes to in-store purchases. You can choose and create a variety of refund conditions to make sure your customers are satisfied with your customer services, including the option to issue instant credit coupons. Learn how we can help you set up return logics and automate your returns process here.



5. Scan-based QR codes for prepaid shipping labels

Online stores like Walmart and Best Buy offer self-service return options where the package will be sent to a pickup location and then shipped back to the warehouse. This saves them money because they don’t have to pay employees to work in return departments at individual stores. The process may also save the customer time because they don’t have to wait in line at a physical store location. Some self-service return locations even allow customers to print prepaid shipping labels right from their computers or smartphones which would allow faster delivery of returned merchandise back to the retailer.

QR codes prepaid shipping labels

If you have an online business and ship your products, chances are that return shipping can be confusing and difficult to manage for both your staff and your customers. This is where self-service QR codes for returns come in.


A self-service QR code for returns allows customers to scan a barcode on their mobile device in order to schedule a pickup of the package they wish to return or exchange. Since self-service QR codes for returns allow customers access to self-service options such as UPS’ return label or autogenerated QR codes from RMA software like WeSupply, it drives brand loyalty and saves your customers precious time!


Self-service QR codes for returns speed up the process in which return or exchange orders are taken care of because customers no longer have to wait around in line at a store or take time away from their busy schedules to call up to get an order taken care of. Though self-service QR codes for returns are easy to implement, they have the potential to help you cut down costs while increasing productivity when used correctly!



6. Provide Visibility Into eCommerce Returns Through Tracking


After a consumer places an order with an eCommerce company, most offer insight into the shipment process (when the product is packed, when it’s in transit, when it will be delivered, and so on). The same degree of transparency should be maintained throughout the returns management process.


Customers will want to know the status of their return and refund or exchange. As a result, it’s critical to offer visibility into this process by providing tracking information for their return. You may also set up automatic text messages to notify them when their return has been received and reimbursed.


Want to learn more about self-service returns? Download the “How To Implement Self-Service Returns” free guide for additional information, tips, and tricks!

WeSupply as your eCommerce Returns Self-Service Center


When using WeSupply as your eCommerce Returns Self-Service Center, you’re making the returns process much easier and convenient for your customers. It will enable you to track returns more effectively, keep an eye on any suspicious activity that might turn into return abuse, and create a positive post-purchase experience.

Learn how automated
returns work in WeSupply!

Our shipping and logistics experts will guide you through the product and analyze how WeSupply best fits your eCommerce needs.​

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