Return Shipping Labels

Return labels are a crucial but often overlooked part of the e-commerce shopping & shipping experience. According to industry data, up to 30% of apparel and fashion orders are returned by the buyers. Therefore, merchants shipping products like clothing, shoes, and phone cases need to account for the fact that many customers may want to exchange or return these products.

According to a survey conducted by Shippo, 54% of consumers say that free return shipping is important to them, and it is a decision factor when comparing between different merchants. Most importantly, 34% of consumers responded that they will purchase items if they know they can ship the items back at no cost.

One of the many ways to increase customer satisfaction and reduce their anxiety – and yours – is by making it easy for them to return a product on their own by using a return label included in the package.

With Shippo, there are two easy ways to generate return labels for domestic shipments shipped via USPS, UPS, and FedEx. You can either create a return label at the same time as you create your outbound shipping label and place it in the package or you can create a return label at any time after.

There are many ways to optimize returns processes depending on your business. One of them is by generating a return label and placing it into the package, which is called a scan-based return label. The great thing about scan-based return labels is that you are only charged for them if your customers use them, so it’s a no-brainer to include them with your customers’ outgoing packages if you think there’s a likelihood of them wanting to return or exchange their order.

Scan-Based Labels FAQ

Q: How long are scan-based labels effective for?
A: USPS scan-based labels are valid for 365 days after being generated.

Q: How am I charged when the customer actually uses the label?
A: The weight on the label is set at the same weight as your outbound shipment, so you will be charged according to that weight.

If I cancel the original shipment that I created with the scan-based return, is the scan-based label valid? 
A: Yes.

Scan-based return labels with Shippo

Creating scan-based return labels with Shippo is easy. When selected, we generate them automatically by swapping recipient and sender addresses and then naming the label as “Return” in your Shipments dashboard.


The alternative option is to generate a return label when a customer contacts you for returns. You can then email them the label for them to print.

Please note, return labels can only be created for domestic shipments because international shipments require customs information that must be created on a per-label basis. If you’d like to include a return label with an international package, generate a new label for that shipment and manually reverse the sender and recipient addresses. This will work as long as you have import rates enabled for the carrier you’re using, i.e. if your account is enabled to ship from other countries.

Need more help generating return labels in our dashboard? Check out this article in our Help Center that goes into more detail. Working with our API? Please check out the API documentation for generating return labels.

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