Prepaid returns labels have no need to be in your e-commerce parcels :

Inserting prepaid labels into every parcel is common practice for many online retailers. This method is often considered to be the best solution to satisfy both the customer and logistics needs.


Sorry to disappoint some of you, but we are far from the truth.


To understand why this practice does more harm than good, let’s look at some of the main reasons:


Inserting prepaid labels while the parcel in on packing table might seem like a good idea:

This gives the customer a simple returns solution after a disappointing purchase. For the retailer it is considered in theory a ‘time-saver’ because the customer does not need to contact customer service.

However, ease is not always the best way of going about things in life.

Dangers of the prepaid label

Lack of data about the return

A prepaid label doesn’t tell you anything about the reason for the return. More than ever e-commerce requires data, lots of data. Without data to analyse it is impossible for the retailer to take informed steps, either about their products or their customers. This data is essential in mastering cost efficiency.

Why is the product being returned ?

Is it a size error ? A misleading description in the product catalogue ? Can the product be resold ? Does it make sense to send it back to the warehouse ?

Above all, how can we improve our logistics management, our products and our communication to reduce our returns rate ?

This information is even more important when it comes to managing large and bulky items.

Hidden and useless costs

Online returns represent a growing cost for online retailers. This includes both the return shipping cost and also the logistics cost linked to managing the return. Printing and inserting a preprinted label into every parcel adds an additional cost to your packing operations, increasing the overall preparation cost.

Furthermore, in spite of the promise to reduce customer service contacts, printing prepaid labels can have the opposite effect.

What should the customer do if they have lost their returns label ? What if it is a gift ?

If you are serious about managing returns operations and handling your costs efficiently, with a solution that is available 24/7 we believe that a different solution is the best one.

Inserting prepaid labels encourages returns

Whilst admittedly a handy solution for retailers, inserting prepaid returns labels is a way of encouraging your customers to make a return.

If the customer is hesitant when making a purchase, the returns label will only accentuate the regret about making the purchase.


We recommend dealing with the source of the problem by offering better-adapted solutions to making a return.


Furthermore, the returns label can encourage practices such as ‘wardrobing’ or different types of fraud.

Environmentally unfriendly

Everyone is aware of the overconsumption of paper in both personal and work lives. Companies need to make a considerable effort to reduce their paper consumption and stop putting labels in parcels.

For a retailer that sells 10 000 orders per month, if we include both the label and the returns label, you need around 250 000 A4 pages per year, the equivalent of 25 trees.

More and more customers are sensitive to the environmental impact of their purchases, and this goes as far as returns.  

Difficult to enforce your returns policy

Unlike a return created by customer service, a return using a prepaid label doesn’t allow you to enforce your returns policy.

Without needing to register your return before sending it is almost impossible to enforce your policy with regards to the timeframe allowed, options for resending or even specific rules applying to sales items for example.

Lack of visibility of back to the warehouse

For your warehouse teams, using prepaid labels does not make life very easy. Unlike an automated system using a RMA, the prepaid label does not allow you to manage inbound returns proactively.

Without precise information about the expected inbound products (which products ? resellable? When ? it is almost impossible for your teams to manage inbound returns efficiently.

Add this lack of visibility to peak volumes like Christmas and you can see the nightmare appearing in your warehouses due to prepaid labels.

Lack of return alternatives

A returns request doesn’t have to end with a lost sale, transport costs and a depreciated product value. In order to limit the direct impact on the net margin and on the customer relationship, online retailers should be able to offer alternatives.

Rather than reimbursing the customer back on their credit card, why not offer a gift card, credit note, or exchange?

You can also give the customer choice by offering different modes of transport. A parcel shop might be a good solution for some customers whereas others may prefer a mailbox deposit or a home collection at lunchtime.

Alternatives to returning the product can also be suggested. Why bother bringing back the product to the warehouse if it cannot be resold?

In summary, with a prepaid label, it is impossible to save the sale.

Our advice for managing your online returns: let your clients handle it

Unlike putting prepaid labels in the parcel, giving your customer the possibility to register their own return at their own convenience is the most adapted solution.

“The returns portal remains the best way to reconcile customer experience, operational efficiency and proactive management of the return.”

Transform your customers’ originally deceptive experience into a positive and reassuring experience

– Accessible 24/7
– Choice of transport
– Label generation
– Integrated payment module
– Carrier tracking
– Proactive e-mail notifications.

Harmonize your brands’ processes and reduce your costs by capitalizing on reliable figures about your returns, your customers and your products (dashboard, returns policy rules, tracking).

For the sake of our planet, reduce your environmental impact, whether that be through offering labels only to those who wish to return an item or by offering alternative solutions (gift voucher, exchange, abandon).

Contact ShopRunBack  and transform your returns management now!