Top reasons to upgrade your manual returns process

For many small retailers, the returns process starts with a simple setup: a basic returns page where customers can email support to initiate a return, or a paper-based returns form included in the package. While these methods are easy to implement initially, they often come with significant challenges as your business grows.

Challenges of Email or Paper-Based returns solutions

  1. Inefficiency and Time Consumption: Manually handling returns via email or paper is time-consuming for both customers and staff. Every return requires individual attention, from generating return labels, to dealing with customer support inquiries to updating inventory records.
  2. Higher Costs: Manual processes can be more expensive due to the labour involved in handling each return and not benefitting from economies of scale. Human error can lead to increased costs.
  3. Inaccurate Data: Paper forms and email communications are prone to errors. Miscommunications and mistakes in data entry can lead to discrepancies and customer dissatisfaction.
  4. Poor Customer Experience: Customers today expect fast and seamless digital solutions in all areas of their lives. While a customer may complete a paper based form manual systems can lead to frustration, which in turn reduces the likelihood of customers shopping with a brand again.
  5. Lack of visibility: With paper and email, it's challenging to gather and analyse data effectively. A carrier link is also not designed to give you information to which can hinder your ability to make informed decisions and optimize your business process.

Modernising your returns policy and process process can offer significant benefits. Here are some of the top reasons to consider making the switch:

1. Efficiency and Time Savings

Automating your returns process can significantly increase efficiency and save your company time. Customers report saving 3-8 minutes processing a return with a custom built returns system vs handling each return manually. Automated systems can streamline various tasks such as generating return labels, updating inventory, and notifying customers. This reduces the workload on your staff and speeds up the returns process, allowing you to handle more returns with the same resources.

2. Reduce Operational costs

Digitisation minimizes labor costs by reducing the amount of manual work required. Many returns management systems offer access to better carrier rates, which can lower shipping costs as well provide options to charge customers for return shipping, helping to offset costs further.

3. Improved Customer Experience and Satisfaction

Modern software following best UX practices can enhance the customer experience and perception of your brand. According to a study, 95% of customers who had a positive returns experience said they would be more likely shop with the retailer again. Customers are often use to simple self-service portals and the ability for them to quickly get relevant updates in real-time. This not only increases customer satisfaction but also encourages repeat business.

4. Better Visibility, Data, and Insights

Moving from a simple setup to a purpose built returns system can provide valuable data and insights that are difficult to obtain with manual processes. These systems can track return reasons, monitor return rates, and analyze customer behavior. This data helps you identify trends, understand customer preferences, and make informed decisions to improve your products and reduce return rates. Enhanced visibility into the returns process allows for better management and more effective strategic planning throughout the year, particularly if a business is heavily impacted by seasonality

5. Scalability and Flexibility

As your business grows, your returns process needs to scale with it. Manual systems can quickly become overwhelmed with increasing return volumes, leading to delays and mistakes. Automated returns systems are designed to handle large volumes of returns efficiently. They offer the flexibility to adapt to different types of returns, business models, and customer needs, ensuring that your returns process remains effective as your business expands.

6. Competitive Differentiation

In today's competitive market, providing an excellent returns experience can set you apart from your competitors. Customers are more likely to choose and remain loyal to businesses that offer hassle-free touchpoints throughout the full shopping lifecycle. By moving away from manual, you can take steps to differentiate your brand, improve the likelihood of enjoying repeat custom. Innovative features such as revenue retention functionality go a step further by helping you drive growth and profitability.

Final words

The time comes for most growing retailers where upgrading from a manual process becomes attractive because of a number of benefits. Businesses that can take a long term view and think wholistically around the implications on efficiency, margins, data and customer satisfaction can gain an edge and have more time to focus on core business.

Evaluating your current returns process and identifying gaps between your current approach and the ideal setup is a great first step in future proofing your business and keeping customers happy.

For more insights and approaches on optimizing your existing returns process, visit or speak to one of our team who can share examples of customers who’ve made the switch.

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