The Do’s and Don’ts of Shipping and Returning

by Andrew Runnette

Managing shipping and returns is an essential aspect of running an e-commerce business. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just putting the product in a box and adding a label. There are many elements that go into shipping a product, from having appropriate packaging to finding the best shipping rates and getting it to the customer in a timely manner. 

According to Material Handling & Logistics, 87% of online shoppers listed shipping speed as a key factor in their decision to shop with an e-commerce brand again.* Therefore, as an e-commerce business, it is essential to know how to navigate these two concepts correctly.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts when having to deal with shipping to and returning from customers: 


Provide customers with shipping options — Giving customers a range of shipping options allows them to get a breakdown of the premium they need to pay to get a product quicker. Some of them will be willing to pay a little extra for high-priority shipping. 

Keep returns as simple and organized as possible — Having an organized system of processing returns as they come through, such as a step-by-step process for the customer along with a smooth return operation, makes life easier for both the consumer and the company.

Provide customers with updates on their packages — Keeping the customer updated on the whereabouts of their package is an excellent way to improve customer service. An order management system can handle everything from placing to tracking and delivering an order.

Add a business card or a personalized note to each package — Having a personalized note goes a long way in improving customer relations. Having a business card in the package as well enables the customer to connect with the businessperson on social media, leave a review and potentially purchase more products.


Pay for overpriced shipping packaging — Shipping boxes and packaging can be expensive; buying in bulk is one way to save. One option is to join a community that can buy packaging in bulk. Major carriers, like UPS, FedEx and USPS, also offer discounted packaging.

Package items carelessly — Shipping fragile items can feel risky. It’s important to use the right box and add enough protective layers before sending to the customer.

Forget to add a return policy on your site — Having a return policy builds trust between a business and its customers. Businesses should b clear and concise about what that policy entails and always try and do right by the consumer.

Let customers leave things in their cart — Making the checkout process more user-friendly can help avoid shopping-cart abandonment.

Understanding these do’s and don’ts of shipping and returns can be the defining difference between a business succeeding or folding over.   

Andrew Runnette is director of operations for Portal Warehousing, a rentable month-to-month warehouse providing flexible industrial space for the needs of today’s growing e-commerce companies at no long-term commitment.

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