Label in the Box or On Demand - which returns strategy works for you?

4 minute read

A good online returns strategy must be developed with a few key considerations in mind – customer experience, resourcing, visibility and control. All returns strategies generally fall into one of two types – a return label is provided in the box with the original shipment or “on demand” (where shoppers request a return label). Which option is the right one for you?

Each option has its advantages and considerations. Keep the following information and insights in mind when you draw up your first returns policy, or re-evaluate your existing one.

  Label in the Box

If you are crafting your first return strategy, or want to have a pretty consistent policy across all your items, this may be the best option for you. With the Label in the Box method, you provide your customers with a return label in the original shipment. As the merchant, you will only be charged the label’s shipping fees if the label is used by the customer.

This option offers the easiest and fastest experience for your customers, and can foster efficiencies for your business. Including the label in the box means you won’t have to worry about sending a label to your customer, if and when they want to make a return. You’ll also take pressure off of your customer service team who won’t have to address every return request.

There are some things to pay attention to with this approach:

  • Including a return label means you will have less control over the items that are returned. Because you don’t have to pre-approve your returns before providing the label to the shopper, any of your products could be returned to you.
  • You may need a backup process so you can provide a replacement label if your customer loses their original one.
  • Due to the simplicity of the process, you may get more returns than you would if you required pre-authorization. But the simplicity of your returns will put your customers at ease when they shop with you.

Turn returns into business opportunities with our guide to mastering e-commerce returns.

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Is “Label in the Box” the right choice for you? Canada Post has returns solutions to support this strategy.

  • Obtain your Canada Post pre-printed labels by mail – without any technical integration. Labels are delivered to you so you can include them in your shipments.
  • Print the labels yourself with a few different Canada Post solutions.
    • The EST 2.0 desktop application lets you print smart return labels at the same time as outgoing labels.
    • eLink or various 3rd party Shipping Solutions let you connect to our shipping system via an external solution electronically to print return and outgoing labels at once.
    • Our Developer Program allows you to develop a shipping solution that connects your e-commerce shipping data to our systems – giving you easy access to return labels.

To find out more about our “Label in the Box” return solutions, visit the Canada Post Returns page.

If Label In The Box is not an option for your business (due to your product mix, business model etc.), consider the “Label On Demand” route.

   Label on Demand

There are a variety of reasons why a merchant might choose a Label on Demand returns option. For example, using this option can increase interaction with their customers or add visibility on what’s coming back to them. This strategy requires that your customers interact with you to request or process an online return. You may require that they contact your customer service line or go to your website to confirm if their purchase is eligible for a return.

Choosing this option will also provide you with data intelligence on your returns (details regarding why your customers are returning their purchases), and help you make improvements.

Before you dive in, consider this:

  • On demand returns can lead to added cost and time due to increased calls or emails to your customer service line.
  • They may decrease the number of returns for your business due to the added hassle and number of steps for your customers.
  • Your sales could be negatively impacted if your customers find your returns process too complicated. It might even lead them to shop with someone else.

Are return labels “On Demand” the option for your business? Here are some of our returns services which you can leverage.

  • Access labels via Canada Post with our free Manage Returns tool to build an unlimited number of return policies. It will create a link to access a return label that you can easily forward to your shoppers or post on your website.
  • Integrate returns into your website to let shoppers request and print their own label.
    • Use 3rd Party Shipping Solutions to connect your returns data to our shipping systems via one of our many Canada Post partners.
    • Use our Developer Program to create a customized returns solution that connects to our shipping system.

Should you use a “Label in the Box” or “Label on Demand” returns strategy? The reality is you don’t need to have the right answer from the outset. You can always fine-tune, optimize, or change your policy as you learn what works best for both your customers and your business. But keep in mind that a great online returns strategy can be crucial to attracting first-time customers. In fact, close to 80 per cent of shoppers will stop shopping with a merchant after a bad returns experience.

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