Happy Returns vs. AfterShip Returns: Which is Best for Your Business?

Happy Returns vs. AfterShip Returns
Happy Returns vs. AfterShip Returns

Are product return worries keeping you awake at night? Do you wish there was a better way to manage returns within Shopify? If the answer to both questions is yes, you need to familiarize yourself with solutions designed to simplify returns and even *shock alert* transform them into an advantage.

AfterShip Returns and Happy Returns are two platforms that offer features to help merchants optimize and automate their return process. Both ensure a happy post-purchase experience by reducing return friction for eCommerce customers and also integrate seamlessly with other software. But how do you decide which is the better option for your business?

In this article, we’ll make a detailed, head-to-head comparison between AfterShip Returns and Happy Returns. Read on if you’ve been wanting to ditch manual returns and learn everything you need to select the best RMA app for your Shopify storefront.

Happy Returns vs. AfterShip Returns: Platform capabilities


As you know, eCommerce returns have a lot of moving parts. You need robust, flexible, accessible features that can help you navigate the different stages of the return process. Using information from both Happy Returns and AfterShip Returns websites, we’ve broken down the functionality each solution has to offer:

Intuitive returns portal

In times where customers demand fast and seamless returns, keeping your finger on the pulse of returned items is crucial. While some eCommerce store owners will attempt to do this manually, taking that route is extremely time-consuming. It makes sense to use a platform that consolidates all your returns into a single, easy-to-understand dashboard.

AfterShip Returns offers a robust returns portal that gives you a 360-degree view of your returns and return requests. A smart filter and search function helps you categorize RMAs by the customer email, return method, carrier, or status. You can also use the same dashboard to approve or reject return requests with one click.

AfterShip’s returns management portal
AfterShip’s returns management portal

If you’re worried about delivery exceptions, you can sync the return shipments to AfterShip’s core platform to easily monitor their statuses and address exceptions faster. Plus, the portal lets you approve RMAs for specific items or high-value goods manually to minimize the return fraud rate.

Happy Returns also offers a returns portal, but we’re not sure whether it helps merchants find and resolve delivery exceptions. Additionally, AfterShip Returns supports 17 carriers for printing return labels, whereas Happy Returns only supports five at the time of writing.

Branded returns page

When a customer is making a return, they’re already feeling some element of dissatisfaction with their purchase. No matter the return reason, this is prime time to reinforce your branding and make sure that the customer knows who you are and what you’re all about.

That’s why it’s critical to be able to customize your return page with your company’s branding. When you do this, you’re not only helping to solidify your brand—you’re also creating a smooth, steady, and reliable returns process for your customers.

A branded returns page is another way of telling your customers that you’re here for them and that you’ll provide them with the best possible experience moving forward.

And you’re in luck: both Happy Returns and AfterShip Returns Center offer customization for your returns page. They also ensure that customers can access their returns quickly and easily by entering two identification details. For Happy Returns, these two details are the order number and ZIP/postal code. For AfterShip Returns Center, they’re order number and email address.

Here's an example of what your customers will see:

AfterShip’s branded returns page
AfterShip’s branded returns page

With AfterShip, your branded returns page also allows you to:

  • Build your page easily, without any web development knowledge or experience
  • Dynamically display featured products to your customers
  • Provide information in multiple languages for international customers

Return notifications

The faster you relay the real-time statuses of returns to customers, the more they’ll trust your brand—coming back to repurchase. As such, the returns platform you choose should help you keep customers in the loop as updates happen in real-time.

Both AfterShip Returns and Happy Returns enable you to give customers timely updates on their returns, with AfterShip offering a little more on top:

  • Custom-branded notifications without AfterShip Returns’ logo
  • Return status alerts for warehouses and distribution centers
  • Multilingual email and SMS updates
  • Customer timezone-based SMS scheduling

It’s also worth mentioning that Happy Returns offers only email notifications for returns and not SMS, which limits your overall reach.

Metrics, automations, and more

AfterShip Returns and Happy Returns offer several other functions, although the latter’s website doesn’t offer as much detailed information. Nevertheless, here’s how the two platforms compare.

Data analytics

Both Happy Returns and AfterShip Returns offer data dashboards for evaluating return performance in real-time. AfterShip Returns gives you an insight into the trends highlighting how quickly your returns are being processed and the steps you can take to speed up the process. Additionally, it lets you calculate how significant the return cost is for your business with robust high-level refunds and returns metrics. Happy Returns also provides fairly detailed reports, although data points may be a little limited.

Automation options

AfterShip Return’s automation tools take a lot of things off your plate. Once you’ve created an account, you can configure the platform to:

  • Automatically update the status of the returns to “in-transit” to make a quick refund to customers
  • Automatically update return status to “shipment received” when the returned item arrives
  • Automatically restock returned products on Shopify and make them available for sale

Additionally, AfterShip offers country-specific routing rules to help you improve the customer experience. These let you process returns for customers with their couriers of choice.

AfterShip Returns’ international routing
AfterShip Returns’ international routing

Happy Returns also automates the returns process, but the workflows it provides are a little basic. In most cases, users will need to use multiple third-party integrations just to automate its processes.

Happy Returns vs. AfterShip Returns: Integrations

“I like my tech stack bloated!” said no one ever. When choosing a returns platform for your eCommerce store, be sure it complements your existing workflows rather than creating silos in your operations.

Happy Returns integrates well with a range of eCommerce solutions, from online store builders to shipment tracking platforms. Users can plug and play with 40+ integrations, meaning a variety of processes can be adjoined to increase business productivity.

AfterShip Returns, too, integrates with various systems, including Shopify, Squarespace, Magento, and WooCommerce, to name a few. Plus, if you implement the full suite of AfterShip products (i.e., shipment tracking + returns management + shipping API), it opens the door for you to connect with 129+ tools and platforms.

AfterShip integrations
AfterShip integrations

So while both solutions promote cross-functioning between your systems, AfterShip offers a lot more in terms of variety and category of platforms you can leverage.

Happy Returns pricing vs. AfterShip Returns pricing

Money isn’t everything, but when you don’t have a budget the size of technology giants like Amazon, it’s definitely worth considering.

With AfterShip Returns, pricing varies according to the plan:

  • The Free plan costs $0 and allows you to process 3 returns per month
  • The Essentials plan costs $9 and allows up to 20 returns per month
  • The Pro plan costs $199 and offers a limit of 1,000 returns per month
  • The Enterprise plan has custom pricing and offers 3,000+ returns per month

AfterShip Returns’ basic plan is free forever, so if you get just a couple of RMA requests per month, you’ll never have to upgrade or pay a premium to handle customer returns.

Happy Returns’ price plans are also listed on its website—although they’re not as straightforward as AfterShip Returns’ pricing. Plans include:

  • Plus, which costs $500 per month and allows for unlimited returns
  • Plus for PayPal, which is free to use for merchants offering PayPal checkout
  • Plus for Enterprise, which is free to use for enterprises offering PayPal checkout

However, all these are surface-level prices because additional fees also apply. As a Happy Returns user, you’ll pay:

1) Shipping label fees when using Happy Returns’ carrier accounts

2) Collection fee for returns received at Return Bars

3) PayPal Checkout fees

The extra fees make AfterShip Returns seem like a better choice. Compared to Happy Returns, AfterShip Returns lets merchants use their preferred checkout and generate pre-paid return labels regardless of their shipping volume.

AfterShip Returns takes the crown

After reviewing all the nuts and bolts of Happy Returns vs. AfterShip Returns, it’s clear that AfterShip Returns has an edge in terms of intuitiveness and affordability. The platform has a great returns portal, SMB-friendly pricing, and various automation for eCommerce businesses. Best of all, it’s completely free to use for three returns per month. Give your customers a seamless and engaging return experience to drive brand loyalty. Get started with AfterShip Returns today.