What Are Self-Service Returns and Why Offer Them?
Rebecca Fox

May 21, 2024

What if you could turn eCommerce returns into a positive experience for your customers while also streamlining your internal workflow? Well, you can – by offering self-service returns.

What Are Self-Service Returns?

Self-service returns, also known as online returns or automated returns, are quickly becoming the standard in eCommerce, making it easy for customers to request returns and exchanges through a dedicated online portal. This revolutionary approach empowers customers to take control of the returns process, reducing the need for human intervention and streamlining the entire process. 

Providing a seamless and hassle-free returns experience, self-service returns enable customers to resolve issues quickly and efficiently, reducing the risk of negative reviews and strengthening your brand reputation.

Self-service returns, in addition to being a convenient option for customers, are also a valuable tool for your business. Providing a self-service return portal lets you reduce the administrative burden of handling returns, freeing up your team to focus on more strategic tasks. 

The Importance of Self-Service Returns

Self-service returns are a win-win for both you and your customers. In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is key. Nowadays, everyone wants things to be super easy, and self-service returns make that possible. 81% of customers say that they want more self-service options; the trend of self-service returns is transforming how customers shop online. 

For example,let’s say a customer buys a pair of jeans online but they don’t fit. In the traditional returns process, they might need to contact customer service, explain the issue, and wait for a return authorization. Then, they would need to find a box, package the item securely, and search for a drop-off location or wait for a courier pickup. This entire process can be time-consuming and frustrating. 

However, with a self-service return portal, customers can request a return in just a few clicks. They can choose the return reason (e.g., wrong size, damaged item) and print a pre-paid shipping label. Providing this level of service empowers customers, reduces frustration, and improves their customer experience as a whole.

Self-Service Returns vs Manual Returns

Here’s a breakdown comparing self-service returns and manual returns to help you decide if self-service returns are the right fit for your business.

Manual Returns

Manual returns, or traditional returns, typically involve a lengthy process that can be frustrating for customers. In this approach, customers need to:

  • Contact customer service.
  • Fill out forms and provide detailed information about the return.
  • Wait for a returns team to process the request.
  • Manually receive a shipping label or shipping instructions.
  • Proactively ask for updates about their return.

This traditional approach can be time-consuming, inconvenient, and prone to errors. It also places a heavy administrative burden on your customer service team, preventing them from focusing on more strategic tasks.

Self-Service Returns

Self-service returns, on the other hand, empower customers to initiate the returns process on their own and get instant resolutions. This revolutionary approach provides a seamless and hassle-free experience for customers. With self-service returns, customers can:

  • Easily request the return or exchange online.
  • Upload photo or video proof (of damage, wrong item, etc).
  • Select the item to be returned, and the reason for the return.
  • Receive a prepaid return shipping label instantly or find a nearby drop-off location.
  • Track the status of their return in real-time.

In contrast to manual returns, self-service returns are faster, more convenient, and less prone to errors. By automating the returns process, you can streamline your workflow and free up your team, while giving customers an amazing experience.

The Advantages of Offering Self-Service Returns

Now that it’s clear that self-service returns are the way to go, let’s dive deeper into some of the reasons why they can be a game-changer for your business.

Improved Customer Experience

In today’s digital world, customers expect a seamless and intuitive experience from start to finish, and that includes the returns process. Indeed, 88% of customers say that the experience a brand provides is as important as its product or services. Self-service returns put the power back in the hands of your customers, letting them request returns on their own, without the need for contacting support. 

The entire process is transparent and user-friendly, with clear instructions and readily available return labels. This empowers customers and gives them a sense of control, giving them a better shopping experience

Self-service returns also provide customers with flexibility and choice, as they can select the return method and refund type that best suits them, whether that means dropping off a package at a nearby location or using a pre-paid label. 

The increased transparency of self-service returns, with customers having access to real-time updates on the status of their return or exchange, reassures customers that their return is being handled correctly.

Moreover, when customers know they can easily return items if they’re not satisfied, they’ll be more likely to place an order in the first place. The peace of mind that comes with knowing they have the option to return a product if it doesn’t meet their expectations can help ease any concerns they may have.

Increased Customer Retention and Loyalty

When customers have a convenient and hassle-free returns experience, they are more likely to remain loyal and continue shopping with your brand. In contrast, 84% of online shoppers will stop buying from a brand after a bad returns experience.

The reason behind the loyalty effect is simple: a smooth returns experience shows that you’re committed to your customers’ satisfaction. Plus, customers will remember their seamless returns experience, making it more likely for them to recommend your brand to friends, family, and colleagues.

Prioritize convenience and flexibility in the returns process to meet and exceed customer expectations, setting your business apart from the competition and earning the loyalty of your customers in the process.

Efficient Returns Management

Managing paperwork, processing refunds, and following up on returned items can eat up valuable time and resources. Self-service returns streamline this entire process. The system automates a large portion of the work, freeing up your team to focus on more strategic tasks.

Automated returns minimize the chance of errors, reduce the risk of lost or misdirected returns, and help make sure that returned items are processed quickly and efficiently. You’ll be able to increase customer satisfaction, reduce returns processing times, and manage inventory better.

Also, automated self-service returns provide valuable insights into your customers’ behavior and preferences, and by analyzing return trends and reasons, you can make more informed decisions to improve your products and processes.

Higher ROI and Profits

From a financial perspective, implementing self-service returns is a good business decision, since automating and streamlining the returns process helps reduce operational costs and improve efficiency, ultimately leading to a better return on investment (ROI)

With fewer resources tied up in manual processing and handling, you can reallocate those savings towards more strategic initiatives that drive growth and innovation.

Self-service returns also have the potential to increase sales and revenue by removing barriers to purchase and instilling confidence in your customers. When customers know they have the option to easily return a product if it doesn’t meet their expectations, they’re more likely to make a purchase in the first place. This increased confidence and trust can result in higher conversion rates and a more loyal customer base, further boosting your bottom line. 

Additionally, using an automated returns system lets you offer a variety of return options, potentially saving you a lot of money that would otherwise be lost to standard refunds. This can be significant, with ReturnGO merchants retaining an average of 35% of their revenue from returns.

How to Implement Self-Service Returns

The best way to integrate a self-service return portal into your eCommerce platform is through a third-party return management system (RMS) like ReturnGO.

A return management system provides user-friendly portals that seamlessly integrate with your existing platforms and providers, making implementation a breeze. 

Using an RMS gives you full control over the returns process, including customizable return policies, automated email notifications, and real-time return tracking.

Remember, the key is to choose a solution that is easy to use for both you and your customers. Seamless integration with your existing platforms and a user-friendly interface for your customers will help create a smooth return experience. 

Chat with our experts to boost your customer return experience and LTV today.

Self-Service Returns Are the Future

Ready to take control of your returns process and elevate your customer experience? Use ReturnGO to start offering a self-service returns experience today.

With the right returns management platform and self-service return portal in place, you can provide a convenient, quick, and easy returns process for customers while reducing workload and streamlining processes for your store.

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