How To: Process Returns in Shopify

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Your Customers Are More Likely to Buy Again If You Offer An Easy, Fast Returns Process

Only 58 percent of online shoppers are satisfied with the ease of making a return or exchange, according to a recent UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ survey. That’s not stellar. Moreover, the risks of a poor returns experience go beyond a single lost sale. It can add to customer dissatisfaction, reduce future purchases, and put inventory investment at risk.

Do you have room for improvement in your returns management process?

A Gap in Your E-Commerce Platform

One big challenge to achieving an excellent returns experience for customers is that Shopify, like many e-commerce platforms, doesn’t include a returns processing function. That capability is typically the responsibility of the warehouse or 3PL. To manage returns, many retailers use spreadsheets. However, spreadsheets require time to create manually, are highly prone to data errors (“Oops, did I delete a column?”), and can cause delays. Not exactly the ideal customer experience.

While spreadsheets can make economic sense for small retailers with very few returns, for those with more than a handful of returns each month, it may be worthwhile to use a returns management app that integrates with your Shopify or Shopify Plus platform.

Returnly: The Best Returns Management App for Shopify

Shopify builds many of their own apps. However, for their online hardware store, Shopify uses Returnly to process returns. Talk about a powerful testimonial for this app.

We recommend Returnly to all of our clients. Why? Well, to begin with, we like that:

  • Customers don’t need to register or log in
  • It’s mobile-friendly
  • Customers print their own shipping labels
  • It has return tracking and shipping verification
  • Businesses can customize their return policies
  • Analytics help you see how many of your customers are sending items back
  • It sends automated emails with return status updates

While there are a whole slew of apps that can help with processing e-commerce returns, Returnly does it best. The app’s self-service returns functionality streamlines and automates the return process, has a helpful support team, delivers a straightforward customer experience, and is easy to install and set-up.

Step-By-Step: How to Set Up Returnly on Your Shopify Site

You can try out Returnly with a free 7-day trial. (Plans start at $9 per month for up to ten returns.)

To get you started, we’re going to walk through how to add Returnly to your Shopify store and how to set up the app to suit your business’s needs.

Step 1: Add the Returnly App to Your Shopify Site

Login to your Shopify dashboard, and from the homepage click on “Apps.” Then click “Visit Shopify App Store.”

In the App Store search bar, type “Returnly.” From the drop-down list, select “Returnly Online Product Returns Manager.”

On the Returnly app page, click “Get.”

Shopify will confirm that you want to download the “Returnly” app. At the bottom of the page, click the “Install App” button.

You will need to create an account on Returnly. Add your information and click the “Sign Up” button.

Even though you are on a free 7-day trial, Returnly will ask you to select a plan to follow your trial.

Return to your Shopify dashboard, and click on “Apps.” You should now see Returnly listed under the “Installed Apps” heading.

Step 2: Add Logos

Click on the link for “Returnly Online Product Returns Manager for Shopify.” You will go to your dashboard for Returnly.

The box titled “Overdue Tasks” will get you started customizing Returnly for your e-commerce site. Start by clicking “Set your returns center logo.” Click on “No file selected” to navigate to your company’s logo file. This will add your logo to the Returnly product returns subsite that will now be part of your e-commerce site. Click “View Returns Center” to see your branded returns site.

The address for this returns site will be yourbusinessname.returnly.com.

Return to the dashboard, and click “Set your email template logo” in the Overdue Tasks box. Repeat the process to upload your company logo. This will add your logo to all email communications with your customers regarding their returns.

Standard automated emails include:

  • Initiate a Return: When a customer goes to your website and clicks to process a return, they will enter their email address and automatically receive this email.
  • Next Steps [Return Processing]: This email includes a link to download a shipping label that the customer can print themselves, and instructions for packaging and shipping the return.
  • Your Return was Delivered: Notification that the customer’s returned item has been received. Refund Notification: This email informs the customer that their refund has been processed.

Step 3: Add Addresses

Return to the dashboard home again and click “The return address is invalid.”

Enter your business return address and store address. Click “Validate and Save.”

Step 4: Add Card for Shipping Costs

At the top, click on payment. Click to “Add Card.” This functionality is also accessible from the dashboard home. When you add a credit card here, you can pay for shipping labels through Returnly (which cost less than paying the high transaction fees for shipping through Shopify).

Step 5: Add Returns Widget to Your E-Commerce Site

From the dashboard home, click on “Customize” in the left side menu. At the top, click “Widget.” This allows you to install a clickable link on your e-commerce site that takes customers directly to the returns site. You can customize the text and location of the widget.

Step 6: Customize Your Return Policies

Return to the dashboard home and select “Returns Policy” from the left menu. This menu allows you to customize your returns policies. You can choose a maximum number of days from purchase, whether you or the customer will pay shipping for returns, if there are specific items that are not eligible for return, identify specific products that are eligible for return, and create a checkbox list of “reasons for return” to gather data from customers.

Step 7: Learn How to Manage Returns

The “Manage Returns” page will give you control over how and when returns are processed. Here you can view returns that are awaiting RMA authorization, in transit, for review, and complete.

You can click on an individual return and identify it “Set as Delivered” and then click to “Process Refund.” Alternatively, you can search all returns by order ID, RMA#, or customer email address.

This area will keep a record of all in-progress and completed returns.

What’s the Customer Experience with Returnly?

When you add new functionality to your e-commerce site to improve your customers’ experience, it’s helpful to see and understand what that experience will be. So here is an example of how a customer would return a product using Returnly integrated into a Shopify site.

Step 1: Initiate the Return

The customer clicks on the Returnly “Easy Product Returns” widget from your e-commerce site.

The customer is taken to your returns center, which is customized with your business logo. They enter their email address to initiate the returns process.

A landing page directs the customer to check their email for instructions.

Step 2: Process the Return

The customer immediately receives an email with a link to start a return.

The link takes them to a customized returns site based on their email address, which identifies the products they have ordered. They can select which item they want to return, and identify why they are returning it (based on your custom list of reasons for return).

The customer is prompted to confirm their address.

They are then presented with an estimated refund.

The customer clicks to “Confirm Return and Refund, And” and a landing page provides their tracking number and a button to download a shipping label.

At the same time, an automated email is sent to the customer with instructions for packaging and shipping their return and a link to the shipping label.

When you have received the customer’s returned item and have identified it as “Set as Delivered” in the Returnly returns management menu, the customer will receive an automated email to update them that their return was received.

Once you click to “Process Refund” from the Returnly returns management area, the customer will receive an email that their order has been refunded.

that’s it! An easy, fast and responsive returns experience that enables you to gain control of returns. The result will likely be happier customers and increased customer lifetime value.

If you’ve tried out Returnly and it’s not for you, here are a few other apps to consider that help with returns management:


Need help getting a returns management app up and running on your site? Want guidance customizing it to make your returns experience as on-brand as possible? Give us a call and we’re happy to help!