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Allys Ton

Offer Easier, Safer Returns during COVID-19

by Allys Ton
person with mask on holding package

With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States, safety is top of mind for customers and business owners alike. Consumers still need to purchase essential goods, but don’t want to put themselves or others at risk when shopping. As a result ecommerce has boomed: it’s a remote shopping experience where customers are able to receive their purchase quickly and safely.

It’s no secret that businesses are turning to, or strengthening, their online storefronts in order to adapt to this new way of shopping; however, what’s trickier to maneuver is the returns process. With this new influx of online orders comes an increase in returns.

For first-time shippers, or those looking to improve upon their return operations, we offer tips on how to make returns easier and safer as we adapt to life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Label Logistics

When the customer has a simple way to receive their shipping label, the return process immediately becomes easier. We recommend 3 different methods to providing a shipping label to your customer — each with their own unique benefits to consider.

Return label with shipment: With each outbound order, include a return label that can accommodate the entire order being sent back. Having the shipping label on hand allows for the customer to quickly prepare their return shipment and removes the hassle of contacting customer support for help.

Worried about the shipping cost of all those labels? Don’t be! With USPS Bill on Delivery, you’ll only be charged for the cost of shipping once the order return is delivered back to your business. Not at the time of label creation, or at time of shipment, but when you have the merchandise back in your possession. This billing option is available through EasyPost’s Shipping API and you can learn more by talking to one of our shipping experts.

What makes this method great:

  • Enable faster returns by proactively providing the return label
  • Reduces the number of customer support tickets and calls for returns
  • Shipping cost is kept to a minimum, you only pay for the labels that are used
person on couch looking at tablet

Create a portal that generates on demand return labels: Hate letting label materials go to waste? Rather than including a return label with each shipment, create an online portal where customers can self-initiate a return and generate labels on-demand. For eco-conscious brands, this is a great way to affirm your commitment to reducing your carbon footprint, while still offering an easy returns process to customers.

The portal can be as simple as gathering the order number to pull up the original order details: the itemized invoice, shipping address, and customer contact information. Customers can select which items they are returning and their shipping address becomes the new return address for their label. This self-service method is a breeze for customers to navigate and can be done at their convenience, rather than during customer support hours.

What makes this method great:

  • Avoid wasting materials and minimize your carbon footprint
  • Reduces the number of customer support tickets and calls for returns
  • Shipping cost is kept to a minimum, as labels are printed on demand

Send the customer a return label upon request: Some things just need a human touch, which is why the last option to consider is having the customer reach out to your customer support team to initiate a return. The option presents an opportunity to provide excellent service that enhances customer satisfaction and promotes long term loyalty.

When a customer reaches out for a return, your team might consider the following responses to figure out why the customer is dissatisfied. Remember, a return might not be the right fix, but it may appear to be the easiest one in your customer’s eyes.

  1. Ask if an exchange is needed. Wrong size? Another color? Send the replacement order immediately while the customer prepares their return of the wrong item.
  2. Extend their trial period. Maybe they weren’t quite happy with their purchase, but it has only been a week in their 30-day satisfaction guaranteed trial. Offer to extend the trial on the item so that they may have more time to utilize (and hopefully fall in love with) your product! Offer tips on how to make the most of their purchase during this time.
  3. Ask how you can make it right. It’s a simple question, but a small gesture may be enough to turn a dissatisfied customer into a happy and loyal one! There’s no one-size-fits all solution for every returns scenario, so just ask and hear what your customers have to say!

Returns don't mark the end of your relationship with a customer; instead, use the returns process as a way to get their feedback and continue the conversation.

What makes this method great:

  • Opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Receive valuable feedback from your customers
  • Shipping cost is kept to a minimum, as some orders won’t be returned

Regardless of which method you choose to implement to provide return shipping labels, rest assured that research has found that the sending and receiving of packages is not linked to the spread of COVID-19. Accepting returns by mail, rather than in-store is a safer option for customers and employees alike.

Frequent handwashing, disinfecting work stations, social distancing, and wearing protective face masks when interacting with others all contribute to the safe sending and receiving of packages during the pandemic, so it’s important to continue these practices.

Contactless Pick-Ups

person taping boxes

With their return shipping label affixed to their package, what should customers do to ensure their safety in returning their items? Well, it’s as easy as placing their package on their doorstep for the courier. By having the return packages be picked up directly from their home, customers will be able to remain safely indoors and maintain social distance.

Scheduling pick-ups on behalf of your customers is easy when you utilize a Shipping API. If you’re using EasyPost as your shipping technology, you’re able to schedule pick-ups for the following carriers:

  • Asendia Europe
  • Canada Post
  • Canpar
  • DHL Express
  • Endicia
  • FedEx
  • GSO
  • Lasership
  • LSO
  • Ontrac
  • Purolator
  • UPS
  • USPS

Easier, Safer Returns

What does a business need to do in order to offer easy returns? Make it easy to access the return shipping label by either including it in the outbound shipment, creating a returns portal for customers, or providing one once a customer contacts your support team. The less friction there is, the better the experience is for the customer.

As for safety, scientific evidence tells us that the sending and receiving of packages does not spread COVID-19 and that following the safety protocols set by health organizations make the situation safer for all. Scheduling contactless pick-ups for customer returns allow customers to stay at home and avoid interacting with others at the post office. Businesses should consider utilizing a Shipping API to schedule pick-ups for an automated process.

Have questions about improving your shipping process during COVID-19? Contact our team of shipping experts at

Author Bio

Allys Ton is Head of Brand at EasyPost and leads the marketing efforts across the company. Working in the intersection of ecommerce, shipping, and technology has been a pleasure since she gets to interact with dozens of innovative companies — many of which are EasyPost users and that she is a loyal customer of. In her free time, she watches “Abstract: The Art of Design” on Netflix, is a cat-mom to 4 bengal cats, and enjoys baking pastries.