4 Shopify Returns Management Apps Reviewed
When you think about returns, do you see them as a cost or as a way to grow your store? While this may sound strange, the way you approach returns will influence your conversions and customer lifetime value.
With the majority of the adult population in the U.S. and elsewhere actively shopping online, shoppers have formed a baseline expectation of what a good online retail experience is. They’ve shopped around and compared multiple ecommerce stores.
One of the major expectations of shoppers is to be able to return goods hassle-free and without it costing them if the goods are not what they want, the wrong size, not the right color, etc. Without this convenience, shoppers may go elsewhere.
So, a favorable returns policy can help boost sales and grow a loyal customer base while an unclear or inconvenient one can have the reverse effect.
Shopify store owners must ensure that their returns policy is customer-centric but doesn’t eat into profits. Many fashion retailers face return rates of 25 percent or more, after all.
That’s where the help of returns apps comes in. In this Shopify returns management app review, we’ll take a look at four of the leading returns apps for Shopify.
Why you need to take returns seriously…
Here’s what Tony Hsieh, the former CEO at Zappos, said about returns policies:
“We also offer a 365-day returns policy for people who have trouble making up their minds. (Originally our returns policy was only 30 days, but we kept increasing it at the urging of our customers, who became more loyal as we lengthened the returns period.) Our returns run high — more than a third of our gross revenue — but we’ve learned that customers will buy more and be happier in the long run if we can remove most of the risk from shopping at Zappos.”
The current Zappos CEO, Scott Schaefer, chimes in with the following:
“I could be significantly more transactionally profitable if I cut off and said no returns but I would easily lose all of my customers and all my customer trust.”
Returns are all about removing the risk and the barriers to purchasing. So, shoppers want to feel that they can “try before they buy” and if they don’t like what they buy, they don’t have to jump through hoops to return it.
That means reducing “friction” in the buying experience by removing unnecessary phone calls, forms, emails, etc. and allowing easy sending and tracking of unwanted purchases.
The importance of a clear returns management policy is backed up by a few key statistics that hammer home how returns can make or break an online store:
- Even back in 2018, 54 percent of shoppers said that free returns or exchanges are the second biggest influence on whether they buy from an online store or not (after free shipping)
- Retail returns increased to an average of 16.6 percent in 2021 compared to 10.6 percent in 2020 (The National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail)
- An online return typically costs a retailer $10 to $20 before the cost of shipping
- Low-cost, quick-churn styles from fashion brands generate some of the highest return rates
- “Poor fit” is the most common reason for making a return (a good indication of why fashion and apparel stores face the highest return rates in ecommerce)
- In 2021, 26 percent of returned products in the U.S. were clothing items
- 39 percent of all retailers offer a 30-day return policy. (Narvar survey)
- 84 percent of UK online shoppers wouldn’t buy from a retailer again after a bad returns experience (Klarna)
It’s easy to see why a clear and convenient returns policy is a key component of any online store — but especially with fashion and apparel.
Some great strategies for reducing returns include gathering reviews, preparing FAQs, and requesting user-generated content (customer images and videos). Shopify also reports a 40 percent decrease in product returns from 3D visualization of products.
Shopify returns management apps reviewed
Just like any other part of your store, returns can be optimized by following best practices.
The current native Shopify returns management process, Shopify Returns Manager, is quite basic. You’re better off with one of the dedicated apps for return management as these have been built with different target merchants in mind.
Each solution has relative advantages and drawbacks that are detailed in four of the leading Shopify returns management apps below, starting with a quick-glance table that covers many of the main areas…
|Rating||5 stars||4.6 stars||4.6 stars||4.6 stars|
|Pricing||From free to $99/month||$99/month to $149/month||From $9/month||From free to $500/month|
|Coverage||Global||US/Canada||Global||Global but UK-centric|
|Automation||Labels, emails, gift cards, refunds, exchange order||Labels, emails|
gift cards/cash refunds
|Labels, emails, gift cards/cash refunds||Labels, emails, refunds|
|Customization||Email, portal, language, policy, reasons, text, error messages||Emails, portal||Emails, portal||Emails, portal|
|Best for||All sizes of stores (small, medium, and large)||Medium and large stores||Small & medium stores||All sizes of stores (small, medium, and large)|
|Website||Learn more||Learn more||Learn more||Learn more|
5 Stars (257 Shopify reviews)
Pricing: Free (up to 5 requests per month). Paid plans from $19.99/month to $99.99/month.
Featured on the Shopify app store since: Oct 2020
Best for: All sizes of stores (small, medium, large)
- Define the return and exchange window as per your policy to automatically restrict customers from making requests
- Can ask customers for photos and additional information before they can request a return or exchange
- Translate your entire customer returns journey into any language
- Design and send email notifications to customers in any language
- Can automate approval of all requests for a fully automated returns system
- Connect your logistic account and send return labels instantly to customers
- Create reasons for return specific to a product/collection
- Refund via gift card, discount code or directly to the customer’s card
- Charge for return labels and deduct them from the refund
- Restrict returns or exchanges on specific orders or products
- Let customers exchange with any other product of their choice
- Integrates with major logistics, 3PL and other apps to effectively manage returns
- Custom reporting available
- 14-day refund available on all paid plans (no question asked)
- Excellent support
- Some users request more integrations
- The app requires the customer to request a separate return for every line item on each order
Returnly Returns & Exchanges (owned by Affirm)
4.6 Stars (164 Shopify reviews)
Pricing: Plans at $99/month (if you have Shop Pay Installments enabled at checkout) and $149/month (premium plans also available on request).
Featured on the Shopify app store since: Dec 2014
14-day free trial available
Best for: Medium and large-sized stores
- Simple — set your policy, customize your brand and start processing returns
- Automated returns and exchanges save time for you and your customers
- Automatic pre-paid labels (in the U.S.) and exchange processing
- Instant refund feature allows shoppers to buy again with a gift card or exchange immediately (no waiting for a refund)
- Gift card system allows customers to get a refund without needing to engage the gift-giver or support
- Printerless QR codes, international handling, brand controls, CSAT surveys and more
- Automated exchange flow makes replacement orders easy to handle and simple for shoppers
- Customizable for merchants
- The app team is dedicated solely to this returns app
- Well-established app (since 2014)
- Expensive compared to some other Shopify returns apps
- Only U.S. and Canada coverage currently
- No free version
AfterShip Returns Center
4.6 Stars (1808 Shopify reviews)
Pricing: Free version available. Paid plans from $11/month up to $239/month (Enterprise version available on request).
Featured on the Shopify app store since: Feb 2017
Best for: Small and medium-sized stores
- Simple app that focuses on basic functionalities for shoppers requesting returns
- Allow customers to return or exchange products via a branded returns portal
- Expedites return shipping with popular couriers like UPS and USPS
- Easy to install — get a live return portal on your site in minutes
- Generate discounted USPS prepaid return labels with Postmen shipper accounts
- Supports returns by pre-paid label, return to store, customer’s carrier of choice and green returns
- Supports refunds by issuing gift cards
- Supports refund to the original payment method, store credit, exchange and replacement with the same item
- Reduce customer inquiries with timely return and refund status notifications via email
- Customize your branded returns page with logo, URL, and returns policy
- Add the returns page easily to your website footer, return policy or order history page
- Track and manage all returns and RMA requests in one place
- Global coverage: integrate with popular carriers like UPS, USPS via Endicia, DHL, DHL Germany, DPD NL, FedEx, Australia Post, Swiss Post, etc.
- Established app with over 1,500 positive reviews from Shopify merchants
- From the same team that runs the popular AfterShip order tracking app
- Free and low-priced entry points
- Some concerns over privacy expressed by Shopify merchants
- Return portal and emails have limited customization features
- Lack of reporting features
Sorted Returns Center (previously Clicksit)
4.6 Stars (416 Shopify reviews)
Pricing: Free version available. Paid plans from $20/month (100 returns per month) up to $500/month (3,500 returns per month).
Featured on the Shopify app store since: Dec 2017
Best for: All sizes of stores (small, medium, large)
14-day free trial available
- An automated returns management app made specifically for Shopify/Shopify Plus users
- Control and automate all returns management from one dashboard
- Branded self-serve returns portal for customers
- Use their standard returns policy or your own
- Branded customizable email notifications for customers and progress updates
- Choose from USPS or Collect+ competitive shipping rates or use your own carriers for InPost
- Automatically generated labels are sent to customers (who select a drop-off location)
- Can upload your own labels
- Offer free returns, paid returns or share the cost with customers
- Refund the original payment method, apply store credit or allow customers to select their exchange items during the return process
- Good level of automation for approvals, labels, and emails provided for processing high numbers of returns
- Easy to install and set up
- Support 7 days a week 9 am-5 pm GMT with a chatbot available
- Backed up by strong reviews from Shopify merchants
- Free and low-priced entry points
- Doesn’t restock items when processing an exchange
- Some delays with unused label refunds
- UK-centric (rather than US-centric)
- International stores can manage returns but not produce return labels (only for the UK)
Get your returns policy right and grow your store
For Shopify store owners, a transparent and convenient returns policy doesn’t just help you retain customers but helps to grow your store’s revenues.
Failure to get this right in your store will cost you customers.
Ultimately, the more you rely on repeat orders from your customers, the more you should invest in your returns experience. Improving the shipping and returns experiences helps breed customer loyalty and makes your life easier as the store owner.
Try out one or two of the Shopify returns management apps reviewed above (free versions or free trials) and see which works best for your store.