Online shopping returns – explained

December 13, 2021
2 minute read

As online shopping grows, so is the trend of returning items through the mail. Here’s what you need to know about online returns.

Now that shopping for the big day is over, the next holiday phase is upon us: returns. With 8 out of 10 Canadians now shopping online, returns through the mail are on the rise.

For shoppers, easy returns are all about convenience. For retailers, the process of returning items purchased online is known as reverse logistics – and different retailers can offer different options based on their technical resources, shipping volume and delivery carrier.

Canada Post works with retailers across the country to offer a number of options to fit their business needs and capabilities. Here’s the breakdown:

Encourage customers to reuse packaging for returns

Canada Post is committed to protecting the environment and encourages customers to reuse packaging for returns, when possible, to reduce waste. When reusing packaging, here are a few tips to ensure your item is processed quickly.

Include return labels in the box

This is undoubtedly the most convenient returns option: when the item you bought online comes with a pre-printed return label right in the box.

This option works best for high-volume shippers with robust IT resources that enable them to build this step into their automated shipping and fulfilment processes. It’s also best for retailers that can afford lenient return policies. Generally, you’ll find a ready-to-use return label in the orders you receive from large-sized retailers.

Enable customers to print labels online through your website

Instead of providing a pre-printed label in the box, retailers can also offer you the ability to request and print a return label through their website. This option is available to retailers that have enough IT expertise and a sophisticated enough website to integrate their site with Canada Post.

Print labels online through Canada Post

Retailers that may be smaller and have fewer resources can still offer customers the ability to print a return label online. In this case, customers can print a label via the Canada Post website. This option is technically manageable for them, yet still convenient for you; instructions are offered on their website.

Visit a post office

For retailers who want to give the option to outsource the printing of a return label, their return policy can instruct customers to visit one of our 6,200 post offices nationwide. You will receive a receipt and tracking number as proof of return.

Research the return policy

Generally, good online retailers will include and explain the terms of their Return Policy on their website. You can often find it at the bottom of the page, or in the FAQs section.