A free return is not an actual concept.
In 2021, over 20% of all online orders were returned, and 10% of all returns that were handled were fraudulent. While the ability to return items makes online shopping much more convenient for consumers, returning goods eventually costs money, usually from your own pocket.
We will discuss how Amazon handles customer returns, when and why customers return orders, and how returns impact your e-commerce business in this article.
In this article you will know:
What is the return policy of Amazon?
Amazon allows returns for the majority of products within 30 days of delivery. Certain categories, like birthday gift lists and baby items, allow returns within ninety days of the shipment’s receipt; other categories are non-returnable or can only be returned to the third-party seller.
Regarding returns, there is a small difference for FBA and FBM Sellers, though.
Amazon handles storage and logistics for FBA sellers (the majority of sellers use FBA to sell), including handling customer returns. FBA sellers typically have little control over whether Amazon accepts or rejects their returns, and because the company is dedicated to providing excellent customer service, it typically accepts returns from customers at no additional expense to the buyer.
Customers who bought from FBA sellers have up to 30 days to request a return (some categories may have a different time frame). When a consumer chooses to return an order, Amazon will let them know that they are the ones who started the return process and will take that cost out of your account balance.
It stated by Amazon for individual or merchant fulfilled sellers that their return policy must be equal to or greater than the policy that applies to orders placed with Amazon and FBA. This basically means that you must provide a 30-day return window for the majority of your products. Additionally, they advise replying to these inquiries in a timely manner and providing the customer with a refund no later than 48 hours after the return request is made. It’s also important to keep in mind that Amazon has the authority to charge the seller account and initiate a refund to the buyer on behalf of sellers who fail to act within the designated two business days.
It should be noted that return orders will be sent back to you as the seller rather than to Amazon. This implies that you must supply one of the following:
- return address within the United States
- pre-paid label for returns
Just a return address and a way to reimburse your customer for return shipping expenses are required for orders fulfilled by sellers (method a: prepaid shipping label, method b: reimbursement of shipping costs).
If you don’t provide at least one of these choices, the client might file an A-Z Claim, which could be challenging for the account’s health and time-consuming to handle.
When Are Products Returnable to Customers?
For a multitude of reasons (up to 72 for FBM Sellers), customers may return Amazon orders. The majority of these returns are free for customers since Amazon strives to give them an excellent shopping experience.
Returns marked “No longer needed” or with other customer-specified reasons will obviously be at the customer’s expense. Returns with damage-related notes should be avoided because Amazon will reimburse customers right away and charge your seller account for the return shipping in these situations. If these return requests are made frequently, the account may be suspended.
Here are a few of the most typical causes of customer returns for FBA:
- Unwanted Item. This includes situations in which the client feels compelled to return an item because they either changed their mind or received something that was not part of their order.
- The product is broken. This refers to goods that are defective or just don’t function when the customer receives them.
- Unauthorized Acquisition. This includes situations in which an order was placed on your account by someone—typically a child.
- The anticipated delivery date for the item was not met. Instances where the shipment arrived too late are covered by this. Typically, customers will cite this justification if the product was meant for a particular occasion, like a birthday.
- Accidentally placed the incorrect order. This is for customers who accidentally ordered something else when they meant to make a purchase. It also includes products that were inadvertently purchased, such as when a customer clicks the Buy Now button by mistake or forgets to take an item out of their cart before checking out.
- The product does not match the website’s description. This is for instances where the item that is shipped to the customer differs from what is shown on your website or listing (usually in terms of color or another feature).
Customers may occasionally get in touch with sellers directly and specify why they are returning the goods.
Do Buyers Abused Returns from Amazon?
Indeed. The fact that Amazon is so accommodating to customers wishing to return merchandise is not surprising. As previously mentioned, refunds are typically issued to customers right away, regardless of the reason for the return or whether the item is actually returned
Amazon returns are vulnerable to misuse and return fraud because many of them are free for the customer. This can be a major issue for small and medium-sized marketplace sellers. One of the most important seller metrics you need to monitor is the NCX rate, which is related to returns and customer complaints.
It happens frequently that customers fabricate the reason they are returning a product. Abusive customers are aware that if they enter any reason that implies that there is a problem with Amazon or the seller, they will not be charged for anything. Some have even gone so far as to accuse the seller of breaking the item just after it was unpacked, while others have made a whole game out of it by demanding returns, never returning the items they ordered (or returning something completely different), and then profitably reselling the original items.
Many sellers view dealing with customers who take advantage of Amazon’s generous return policy as just part of their business, but since Amazon won’t always catch returns fraud, you do have the option to file a case for extremely fraudulent acts.
Advice for Granting Refunds
Prior to giving a refund, take into account the following:
- We strongly advise you to hold off on issuing a refund until you receive the item back from the buyer after approving a return request. You would give the refund immediately, without waiting for the return, if you let the customer keep or discard the item.
- You may choose to offer a partial refund if the customer returns the item to you broken or in a different condition than when you sent it. We advise informing the customer ahead of time if you plan to grant a partial refund in order to prevent confusion or potential A-to-Z Guarantee claims.
What happened on Amazon With Returned Items?
When a returned product is delivered to the Amazon warehouse, employees of Amazon FC will assess its state to decide whether or not it can be sold. You will receive back your inventory for use in a subsequent order for any products that were returned unused and in new condition. Amazon will investigate further to ascertain the cause of any damage on products that are judged to be damaged or unsellable. To put it another way, there are typically three ways that Amazon could handle the refund:
Amazon has offered a helpful list of explanations that show who is at fault in a particular situation.
Returned goods are not the only thing that a removal order can remove from your FBA-stored inventory. In addition, you will be able to examine the item for yourself, which will help you steer clear of similar return requests down the road. Returning unsaleable items can take anywhere from 14 to 30 days, and depending on the item’s size and handling requirements, it may incur additional costs. The majority of sellers utilize Seller Central’s automated inventory removal feature.
Amazon occasionally offers replacements to customers who send back FBA products. In that case, a new item will be shipped at no cost to you from your inventory. The replacement won’t cost you anything, but you also won’t get paid for it. There won’t be any changes to the payment from the original item sold. It goes without saying that you can only get a replacement if the return item is available at the Amazon FC.
You are eligible for a refund if Amazon damaged the product during fulfillment. In the event that the customer does not return the returned item to an Amazon FC within 45 days of receiving a refund, Amazon will also reimburse you. It’s important to keep in mind that even though Amazon usually pays out to sellers for these kinds of returns, many situations still manage to slip through the cracks. If you believe that Amazon owes you money, our comprehensive guide to Amazon reimbursements will walk you through the process of filing a case and requesting reimbursement.
The Impact of Customer Returns on Your Company
In addition to costing you money each time a customer returns an order, having a high return rate is detrimental to the health of your account and may even result in account suspension.
You can use Seller Central’s Returns Performance Dashboard, also known as Manage FBA Returns, to keep an eye on your return rate. This will display the current state of every customer return, starting from the moment they are started and ending when the return procedure is finished. Here, you can view the items that have been completed, those that have been returned by a customer, and which ones have been received back into the Amazon warehouse.
There are several approaches to liquidate your unsaleable inventory and recover the mounting expenses of customer returns. In our post on 7 Fantastic Ways to Sell Your Inventory, we discuss these choices.
Handling returns from customers is a necessary aspect of operating an online store. Understanding exactly what happens when a customer chooses to return an order can have a significant positive impact on your bottom line. Leaving your Amazon returns unchecked can be bad for business.
Have we overlooked anything regarding returns from Amazon customers? Tell us in the comments section below.