What is a Return label? A Comprehensive Guide on How it Works and How to Create it
By Komal Puri | June 7, 2023
Return labels are a part of the growing e-commerce industry. About 30% of online orders are returned, because consumers want to see and touch the goods they purchase, which is impossible when shopping online. Almost all retailers offer online returns policies, and consumers are using them. According to a 2023 FarEye ‘Eye on Last-mile Delivery’ report, 46% of retailers always or almost always offer free returns.
Companies need a well thought out plan for the increasing numbers of returns in order to provide a superior customer experience around the returns process. Creating return labels simplifies the reverse logistics process for consumers and retailers.
Return labels have become a necessity in today's world of online shopping. With the convenience of shopping at our fingertips, it's important to have an easy and efficient way to return items that just don't work out.
Return labels provide a hassle-free way to send back products that didn't meet expectations or simply weren't the right fit. They allow customers us to avoid the dreaded trip to the post office or shipping center, and instead, allows them to drop off their returns at various convenient locations.
Return labels don't just benefit the consumer, but they also provide peace of mind for retailers to ensure their customers are satisfied with their purchases. Return labels have changed the game when it comes to online shopping.
What is a return label?
A return label is a shipping label that is attached to a package to facilitate its return to the sender. The return label contains the sender's address, the recipient's address, and other necessary information such as tracking numbers, shipping dates, and instructions for the carrier.
The purpose of a return label is to make the return process as easy and efficient as possible for both the sender and the recipient. With a return label, the sender can ensure that the package is returned to the correct address and the recipient can easily return the package without having to worry about creating and affixing a label themselves.
How return label shipping works?
Return label shipping is a process that allows a customer to return a package to the sender using a prepaid shipping label. Here's how it typically works:
The sender includes a return label with the original package: The sender either includes a prepaid return label in the original package or sends one to the customer upon request.
The customer prepares the package for return: The customer typically packs the items to be returned in the original packaging, attaches the return label to the package, and seals it.
The customer drops off the package at the carrier location: The customer can either drop off the package at a carrier location or request a pick-up from their location.
The carrier delivers the package to the sender: The carrier then delivers the package to the sender's designated address.
The sender receives and processes the returned package: The sender inspects the returned package and processes the refund, exchange, or repair as needed.
Return label shipping simplifies the returns process by providing an easy-to-use label for the recipient, prepaid by the sender, that ensures the package is returned to the correct address.
How to create a return label?
Creating a return label can vary depending on the company's policies and procedures. However, in general, there are several ways to create a return label:
Online return process: Many companies offer an online returns process, where customers can initiate the returns process by logging into their account on the company's website or by using a returns portal. Once the return has been initiated, the customer can print out the return label.
Shipping carrier website: If the company uses a shipping carrier such as USPS, UPS, or FedEx, the customer can create a return label directly on the carrier's website. The customer will need to provide the necessary information, such as the company's address, the customer's address, and the package weight.
Third-party return service: Some companies use third-party return services that handle the entire return process, including creating and sending the return label to the customer. The customer can then print out the return label and attach it to the package.
In general, when creating a return label, the customer will need to provide the following information:
The company's name and address
The customer's name and address
The order number or other identifying information
The reason for the return
The package weight (if required)
Once the return label has been created, the customer can print it out and attach it to the package. The package can then be shipped back to the company using the carrier and shipping method specified by the company. It is important to follow the company's instructions carefully to ensure that the return is processed correctly so that the customer receives a refund or replacement as quickly as possible.
Types of Return Label Shipping
Return labels are an important aspect of e-commerce that allow customers to easily return items they have purchased from an online store. These labels are typically provided by the retailer and can be included in the package when the order is shipped to the customer. There are different types of return labels available to suit different needs and situations. Here are some of the most common types of return labels:
Prepaid Return Labels: A prepaid return label is a label that the retailer provides to the customer that has already been paid for, which means the customer doesn't have to pay for return shipping. The retailer will either deduct the cost of the return shipping from the refund or cover the cost themselves. This type of label is ideal for customers who want to return an item due to a fault with the product or if the wrong item has been shipped.
Customer Paid Return Labels: This type of label requires the customer to pay for the return shipping. In this case, the retailer will not provide a prepaid label, and the customer will have to arrange and pay for the shipping themselves. This type of label is ideal for customers who have changed their mind about the product and want to return it for personal reasons.
Exchange Labels: An exchange label is used when a customer wants to exchange an item for a different size, color or product. The retailer will provide a prepaid label that the customer can use to return the item and will also send out the new item once the original item has been received. This type of label is ideal for customers who want to exchange a product rather than return it.
Gift Return Labels: A gift return label is used when a customer wants to return a gift that they have received. In this case, the retailer will provide a prepaid label, and the customer will not have to pay for return shipping. This type of label is ideal for customers who have received a gift that is not suitable or unwanted.
Benefits of Using a Return Label
Return labels are an important tool for retailers and e-commerce businesses to provide a hassle-free returns process to their customers. Here are some of the benefits of using return labels:
Convenience: Return labels make it easy for customers to return items they are not satisfied with or that are defective. Customers can simply print out the return label, attach it to the package, and drop it off at a nearby shipping location. This convenience leads to higher customer satisfaction and can encourage repeat business.
Improved Customer Experience: Providing a hassle-free returns process can improve the overall customer experience. Customers appreciate the ease of returning items they don't want or need, and this can lead to positive word-of-mouth marketing and increased customer loyalty.
Cost Savings: By providing a prepaid return label, retailers can control the cost of returns and reduce the risk of fraud. Additionally, by having a clear returns policy, retailers can reduce the number of fraudulent returns, which can be costly.
Increased Sales: By offering a hassle-free returns process, retailers can increase customer confidence in their products and business, which can lead to increased sales. Customers are more likely to purchase from a retailer that offers easy returns, as they feel they can trust the business and that they are not taking a risk.
Better Inventory Management: Return labels provide retailers with valuable information about the reasons for returns, which can help with inventory management. By tracking the reasons for returns, retailers can identify common issues with their products, improve their quality, and reduce the number of returns in the future.
Common Return Label Mistakes
There are some common mistakes that retailers make when designing and using return labels. They include:
Poorly designed labels: A poorly designed return label can lead to confusion and frustration for customers, which can discourage them from making future purchases. To avoid this, retailers should ensure that their return labels are easy to read, with clear instructions and information about the returns process.
Incorrect or missing information: Return labels should include all necessary information, such as the customer's name and address, order number, and reason for return. If this information is missing or incorrect, it can delay the return and cause frustration for the customer.
Not including instructions for customers: Return labels should include clear instructions for customers, including how to pack and ship the item, where to drop off the package, and any other important details. Without clear instructions, customers may make mistakes that delay the returns process or cause damage to the item being returned.
Failing to track returns: Tracking returns is important for retailers to ensure that items are returned and processed correctly. If a retailer does not track returns, they may miss returns or not process them in a timely manner, which can cause frustration for the customer and damage the retailer's reputation.
Tips for Creating Effective Return Labels?
Creating an effective return label is crucial for a seamless and hassle-free returns process. Here are some tips for creating effective return labels:
Use clear and easy-to-read fonts: It is important to use clear and legible fonts that are easy to read, even in small sizes. The font should be large enough to read on a computer screen or printed copy.
Include all necessary information: Make sure to include all necessary information such as the customer's name, address, order number, and reason for return. This information will help ensure that the return is processed quickly and accurately.
Use clear and concise language: Use clear and concise language to explain the returns process, including how to pack and ship the item and where to drop off the package. Avoid using technical jargon or complicated language that could confuse customers.
Provide a clear deadline for returns: It is important to provide customers with a clear deadline for returns. This information should be clearly stated on the return label to avoid any confusion.
Offer different return options: Consider offering different return options, such as in-store returns or return by mail. This will give customers more flexibility and options when returning items.
Use branding elements: Incorporate branding elements such as company logos and colors to make the return label more visually appealing and recognizable to customers.
Test the return label: Before implementing the return label, test it with a small group of customers to ensure that it is clear, easy to use, and effective.
Why Return Labels Matter
Returns have grown as e-commerce has continued to grow. Return labels have become an essential tool for companies selling products online. By including a return label in a package, customers can easily return an item that they are not satisfied with or that is defective. This convenience helps to build trust with customers and can improve overall satisfaction with a company's products and services.
Return labels can also save time and money for businesses by streamlining the returns process and minimizing the risk of lost or damaged packages. Many companies now offer digital return labels, which can be printed from the customer's home or sent directly to a shipping location, further increasing the ease of returns.
Overall, return labels have become an integral part of the e-commerce experience and are a valuable tool for both businesses and customers. By prioritizing customer convenience and satisfaction, companies can build a loyal customer base and improve their bottom line.
How to return a package to the sender?
Returning a package to the sender can be done in a few simple steps:
Verify the return address: Before returning the package to the sender, it is important to confirm the correct address. This information can usually be found on the original shipping label or in the return instructions provided by the sender.
Package the item securely: Once the correct address has been confirmed, the item should be packaged securely. This may involve using a new box or envelope and filling any empty space with packaging materials to prevent the item from moving during transit.
Attach the return label: If the sender has provided a return label, it should be attached securely to the package. If a return label was not provided, the customer should write the sender's address on the package and ensure that it is clearly visible.
Ship the package: The package should be shipped using a carrier and shipping method of the customer's choice. The cost of shipping will typically be the responsibility of the customer unless the sender has provided a prepaid return label.
Confirm receipt: Once the package has been shipped, the customer should confirm receipt with the sender. This can be done by tracking the package and ensuring that it has been delivered to the correct address.
Overall, returning a package to the sender is a relatively simple process, but it is important to follow the sender's instructions carefully to ensure that the return is processed correctly and the customer receives any necessary refunds or replacements.
How FarEye helps with returns
FarEye's returns management module enables retailers to label generate QR codes. These codes help the retailers in swiftly identifying consumer returns at the carrier drop-off location or to the service executive at the door.
FarEye’s Returns product also allows companies to customize and brand their returns experience in a web or mobile app environment to allow a seamless customer experience.
Komal Puri is a seasoned professional in the logistics and supply chain industry. As the Senior Director of Marketing and a subject matter expert at FarEye, she has been instrumental in shaping the industry narrative for the past decade. Her expertise and insights have earned her numerous awards and recognition. Komal’s writings reflect her deep understanding of the industry, offering valuable insights and thought leadership.