When you start your dropshipping business, you probably want every order to go through smoothly and for customers to be happy with the products they get.

This isn’t always the case, though. Sometimes, a customer’s order may be wrongly filled or fall short of what they expected. In return, they can ask for a dropshipping return or refund.

In this guide, we talk about everything related to dropshipping refunds and returns, such as why they happen, how to avoid them, and what policies you should have in place.

Let’s begin.

Understanding Dropshipping Returns and Dropshipping Refunds

In order to better understand how to navigate dropshipping refunds and returns, let us begin by defining each of them.

Dropshipping Returns

Let’s say a customer places an order for leggings at your dropshipping clothing shop. You then share the order with your leggings dropshipping supplier and they fulfill it.

A customer who is unhappy with their order may contact you and request a refund or exchange. Notably, because dropshippers do not handle inventory, the customer would have to send the products back to your dropshipping supplier.

This process is what is referred to as a dropshipping return.

Dropshipping Refunds

When a customer initiates a return through dropshipping, they have the option of requesting a replacement item.

Another option is for them to request a refund of the product price. A refund for a dropshipping order.

What Are Some of the Causes of Dropshipping Returns?

Customers who are unhappy with their dropshipped purchases typically initiate returns. Possible causes of their discontentment include:

They Received a Damaged Product

If your supplier is lax about quality control, you may have to deal with faulty goods being shipped to your customers. Sometimes, things get broken because they weren’t packaged well or were handled roughly.

Still, the customer will have received a flawed item and will have every right to demand a replacement or a refund.

They Received an Erroneous Order

If you enter the wrong customer’s information for their order, you will have an incorrect order. In particular, dropshippers who manually input orders from customers and pass them along to their dropshipping suppliers are more likely to experience this.

Conversely, the mistake could occur during the dropshipping fulfillment process. It’s possible that your supplier accidentally sent you the wrong item, or that they put labels on the wrong packages.

The customer is not at fault in either scenario, so it is crucial that you find a way to compensate them.

They Ordered the Wrong Item

Choosing the right size is essential when shopping for apparel, footwear, drapery, and linens. Customers may still select an item with incorrect dimensions, even with a size guide. Consumers who don’t read product descriptions thoroughly are just as likely to make poor selections.


A customer may request a refund if they receive more merchandise than they expected. This is a tricky type of return request because some customers may want to keep the ‘excess’ and not return the rest of their order.

How to Handle Dropshipping Returns and Dropshipping Refunds

Dropshipping returns and refunds are handled in accordance with the policies of both your store and your dropship supplier. However, there are universally applicable ground rules:

Some items, like underwear, are not returnable because they are considered hygienic. All of these caveats need to be made clear on the product pages themselves.
Customers must return items within the specified time frame; it’s best for everyone if issues are reported and returns are started as soon as possible.
You’ll need to communicate frequently with your dropship supplier, as the entire process involves three parties: you, the supplier, and the customer. Therefore, making decisions on your own would be counterproductive.
Be sure to implement a returns policy, which details the process by which customers can return items purchased from your store.
Now that we have established some ground rules, let’s dive into the specifics of how to handle dropshipping returns and refunds.

Assess the Return Request

When a customer requests to return an item they purchased from you, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Learn from the customer’s reasoning for returning the product so you can better serve them in the future. In the same way, it lets you decide if the reason is good enough to warrant a return.
Weigh the item’s price against the cost of shipping it back to you or your supplier, and then shipping a replacement. Shipping a replacement item can be less expensive overall.
It is best practice to apologize to the customer and then process the return if you find that the return request is valid.

Establish a Suitable Solution

Find out what it is that your clients want. To what extent do they insist on getting their money back? Does he or she want a substitute? Determine what would satisfy them and what you could handle on your end, and go from there.

Consumers are more likely to return to a business if their complaints are addressed with care, and they sense that improvements are being made as a result. This is a dealbreaker for many customers, deciding whether they will return to your store or go elsewhere.

Contact Your Dropshipping Supplier

A Complete Guide to Dropshipping Returns and Refunds 3

Communicate the return request for dropshipping to the supplier for their approval. The RMA number will be issued at the same time as the return authorization. As you work to complete the refund, you can use that number as an identifying identifier.

You may also find out from the supplier at this time just how many people they can feed. Dropshipping refunds may not include shipping costs in some cases, depending on who was at fault. Any additional shipping costs incurred as a result of an exchange request made by the customer may be their responsibility.

Coordinate the Return

Give the RMA number and return address to the customer so they can send the package back.

If there are any other requirements, please let them know. As an example, the package may need to be labeled in a certain way so that it can be processed smoothly by some suppliers. It’s possible they’ll need a tracking number, too.

However, you may want to consider having the customer pay for shipping costs if the product is damaged or otherwise flawed. This would allow you to see the areas where your supplier falls short, without having to worry about losing business to competitors.

However, the latter choice is more difficult because you will still have to ship the return to the supplier.

Await Arrival of the Return Package

On the day that you anticipate delivery, contact the vendor to ensure that they have received the returned package. If they’re any good, they’ll offer to send you a confirmation email without being asked.

The agreed-upon solution will be implemented by the supplier upon receipt of the package. They would either credit your account with a dropshipping refund or reship a new item to the buyer.

Complete the Cycle

Contact the customer once the replacement has been shipped out by the dropshipper, if necessary. Send them the package’s status updates and encourage them to comment if they have any questions or concerns.

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However, if they asked for a refund because of drop shipping, you should comply.

Free items or discounts could be offered to the customer in both cases as a way to make amends. In particular, offering coupons can be very beneficial, as they can motivate customers to return to your store for future purchases.

How to Avoid Dropshipping Returns and Dropshipping Refunds

Since perfect products are so unusual, it’s not unusual for customers to request a refund or return for items they received through drop shipping. However, you should do what you can to reduce the likelihood of that happening.

If you want to stay out of the perpetual loop of returns and refunds, consider the following advice.

Automate Some Dropshipping Tasks

A Complete Guide to Dropshipping Returns and Refunds

Dropshipping involves a lot of manual, repetitive tasks like communicating with suppliers, managing inventory, and importing product listings. You’d have much less room for error when taking payments or adding new items to your web store.

Be careful to pick the best dropshipping apps for the tasks you want to automate. It’s true that some apps work better with specific platforms than others. A store that relies too heavily on automation risks appearing lifeless and uncaring to customers.

Choose a Reliable Dropshipping Supplier

During the fulfillment phase, mistakes can occur that lead to customers requesting a return or refund. So, pick a dropshipping vendor that pays attention to detail and ensures that

Provides Stringent Measures for Quality Control to Prevent Shipment of Defective Goods
offers a fair return policy and dependable packaging
relies on tried-and-true shipping methods that can be tracked
meets your brand’s requirements for service quality and goals
Before starting to share orders with your supplier, it may be best to ask about and negotiate these provisions. In order to get a feel for the service your customers will receive, you should also try out their fulfillment services.

Have a Clear Returns and Refunds Policy

To help your customers understand the process you follow when an item they purchased from you must be returned, you should draft a returns and refunds policy. Customers will be better able to make a well-informed purchase decision if you lay out these parameters for them in advance, and you may also reduce your legal liability.

Include the following information in your returns and refunds policy:

Products that cannot be returned should be clearly labeled in your dropshipping store.
Customers are required to initiate returns/refunds within the specified time frame. It needs to line up with the period during which your dropshipping suppliers will accept returns and issue refunds.
If their return period is 30 days, yours should be the same length or shorter.

It is recommended that the return address not be specified because the customer may be responsible for shipping the package back to the supplier. Encourage interested parties to get in touch with you for more information. Even more so if you work with multiple vendors.
Recommend that your customers use a method of shipping that allows you to track its whereabouts so that you and the customer both know how things are going with the return.
Specify the reasons a customer’s return request would be denied, such as carelessness or inaction.
If you’re having trouble formulating a returns and refunds policy, a generic template is available for download on the internet. Some websites, like Shopify, also have pre-made templates that you can customize to your liking.

It is recommended that the page detailing your dropshipping business’s refund and return procedures be prominently displayed in the store’s menu. The policy should be written in clear and concise language.

Make Your Dropshipping Store User-Friendly

An uncluttered and straightforward dropshipping shop makes it simple for shoppers to find what they need. Customers may make the wrong purchase due to the overwhelming number of pop-up prompts.

You should have quality images of your products alongside detailed but succinct product descriptions. When faced with a long list of product specifications, some customers may become confused and seek out additional assistance. For their purposes, shorter summaries would be helpful.

Consider starting a short blog post if you believe in-depth product content could better serve some customers.

Last but not least, include convenient resources like sizing guides, measurement converters, and shipping estimates. Many incorrectly sized orders could be avoided if customers were prompted to double-check these details.

Concluding Remarks

Almost as important as the way you manage regular orders is the way you handle returns and refunds for dropshipped items. If handled properly, it can be a great way to bond with customers, but if not, it can be disastrous.

Consequently, you should try to:

Focus on the customer’s needs and feelings.
Get in touch with your dropshipper to arrange a refund or return.
Recognize where your dropshipping procedures could use improvement, and implement changes.