How to Set Up Shopify's New Self Serve Returns

What are Shopify self serve returns?

With its Winter 2023 update, Shopify has released new functionality that enables native customer self service returns. This new functionality allows Shopify store owners to give their customers the option of requesting a return directly from the new Shopify account page.

Shopify merchants previously had to handle returns manually via email or chat, or use a third party returns management app like ReturnZap. There are still many benefits to using a third party returns app, but Shopify's built in functionality may be enough for merchants with basic returns needs.

This article will walk through how to enable this new returns functionality, and the pros and cons of doing so.

Shopify's Winter '23 Edition Has Enabled Native Self-Serve Returns

Requirements to use Shopify self serve returns

In order to use Shopify's new self service returns functionality, merchants need to do the following:

  • Use the new customer accounts functionality that Shopify released as part of its Winter '23 edition
  • Activate customer self-serve returns within Shopify settings
  • Add a log in link to the new customer account section somewhere in their store or add a link to the new customer account page to your store's navigation bar in the header or footer

Merchants will also need to monitor for incoming return requests via the Shopify admin. All action will be done manually to review and process these returns.

Benefits of Shopify self serve returns

For merchants accustomed to managing all returns manually through email or customer service contacts, the new self serve returns functionality brings several benefits.

  • Embedded self-service returns portals are more professional and have quickly become the norm in e-commerce
  • Customers can initiate returns without reaching out to your customer service team directly
  • Return reasons are standardized and pre-populated, which helps with reporting
  • Return requests can be reviewed and approved directly within Shopify
  • Merchants can keep customers updated by using three new Shopify email templates for when returns are requested, approved, or declined
  • Shopify gives several options to generate and send a return shipping label
Shopify's new self-serve returns allows customers to initiate a return directly from the new account page

Drawbacks and limitations of Shopify self serve returns

However, Shopify's new self-serve returns functionality may not be the right for all merchants. While it does allow customers to initiate return requests directly from their account page, the new returns service leaves almost every other step of the process up to the merchant to handle manually.

There are several downsides to this approach. Merchants may find themselves spending even more time managing returns than before. Many merchants may find that using a dedicated Shopify returns app is easier and offers more flexibility and customization.

Self serve returns require Shopify's new customer accounts page

  • Self serve returns are only available on Shopify's new customer account page
  • Customers must log in and authenticate in order to use Shopify's new self serve returns portal. This requires either a direct log in via an existing account or a click through an emailed link, which adds a step
  • Shopify's new account page does not support liquid customization and cannot currently be styled to match your theme
  • Third party apps do not currently work with the new account functionality
  • See a full comparison of the new vs old customer account page from Shopify
How to enable Shopify customer self-serve returns

Return reasons are defined by Shopify and cannot be changed

Shopify has standardized the return reasons available to customers. These are:

  • Size was too small
  • Size was too large
  • Changed my mind
  • Item not as described
  • Received the wrong item
  • Damaged or defective
  • Style
  • Color
  • Other

These reasons cannot currently be customized, and they cannot be removed.

All return requests require manual review and approval

  • All return requests enter a queue to be manually reviewed and approved.
  • Customers can submit returns for all orders, with no limitations around time frame
  • No broad global policies can be set to prevent certain items, like final sale, from being returned

Return shipping labels must be issued manually

  • There is no way to automate return label generation and allow customers to immediately download a return label
  • Shop admins must manually issue a return label or allow the customer to arrange their own shipping

Creating custom policies and exceptions is difficult

  • Customers can submit return requests for all orders by default
  • Shop admins must implement return policies manually by reviewing and approving/denying each request
  • This adds work and negatively impacts the customer experience when returns are not approved

How to configure Shopify self serve returns

Despite some limitations, Shopify self-serve returns can be a great option for merchants with generous return policies who do not mind handling each step manually. For example, for merchants transitioning from an entirely email-based returns process the new returns functionality can help streamline operations.

Getting started with Shopify self serve returns is easy, but requires a few changes. The biggest change is that you must be using the new customer account feature.

Here's how to get everything set up:

1) Make sure you have the new customer accounts page enabled by going to Shopify Settings > Checkout and Accounts > Customer Accounts.

Here, you can customize your log in process and make sure you have the new account feature enabled

Enable new customer account for Shopify self-serve returns

2) Once the new account experience is enabled, scroll down further on the page to enable customer self-serve returns. This can be done by checking the box labeled "Allow customer self-serve returns" and by saving the page.

3) Now you need to link to this new self-serve returns experience from your shop. This can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Give customers the option to log in and initiate returns directly from their My Account page. This is accomplished by checking the box to "Show login link in the header of online store and at checkout" within the account experience settings page.
  2. Embed the customer account URL somewhere in your shop.  This link can be added to your returns policy page, in your shop footer, or anywhere else you'd like to link to it.

4) Finally, edit the return request email notifications within Shopify. Shopify has three templates you can modify:

  1. Return request confirmation - The email sent when a customer first submits a return request through the new account page
  2. Return request approved - The email sent once you approve a return request
  3. Return request declined - The email sent if you choose to deny a return request

Note that if you are in the US and you generate a return label through Shopify, your customer will receive a second email with this return label, which cannot be customized.

That's it - self-serve returns should now be set up via Shopify.

Alternative and advanced returns functionality

Many Shopify merchants will find that they need a little more customization and automation when it comes to managing customer returns.

This is where third party apps like ReturnZap come in. ReturnZap is packed with features that take Shopify self serve returns to the next level.

With ReturnZap, you can:

  • Allow customers to choose whether to return for a refund, exchange, or store credit
  • Set custom return windows based on days since order delivery
  • Require manual review and approval or automatically approve all return requests. Or a combination via custom rules and logic.
  • Fully customize your returns experience with a brandable returns portal that does not require users to log in
  • Automatically issue prepaid return labels with support for dozens of return shipping providers worldwide
  • Require that customers purchase a return label, passing along the cost of return shipping
  • Require customers to upload photos as part of the return request process
  • Define custom workflow stages and set custom email notifications with full HTML template control
  • Create powerful, custom return policies to prevent returns on sale items, offer extended return windows to VIP customers, route returns to different warehouses, and more
  • Many more features!
ReturnZap gives you a branded Shopify returns portal

ReturnZap offers all this and more at a reasonable cost, with three plan tiers to best fit your needs. ReturnZap offers a 14 day free trial on all plans.

Ready to get started? Start your free trial today, or contact us for a demo and to discuss your unique needs.

David Amouyal
March 6, 2023

Join hundreds of other Shopify merchants successfully managing their returns with ReturnZap

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