Posted by Alex Jackson on 28th Nov 2016
Fast and easy returns is the name of the game on virtually every selling platform these days. Extended returns, easy to print return labels, return preapproval the seller is being pushed further and further to offer more flexible returns policies. Now Amazon is taking it a step further for its seller fulfilled shipments from select sellers starting in November buyers will be able to return any purchase from a US based seller without seller approval provided the return meets Amazons returns policy. What this means to sellers is less control and more costs and headaches. Removing buyer return approval means that a buyer can now potentially return a used, distressed or incomplete item with little recourse for the seller. Additionally the seller is also responsible for all return fees which in some cases can exceed the cost of the item in many circumstances sellers would rather issue the refund than deal with the expense of having to pay for the return shipping this option is effectively eliminated. The upside is that pro sellers have some exemptions to this new policy. Pro sellers are able to request sku specific exceptions such as high valued items with special shipping such as additional insurance and low value items that that the return shipping cost would exceed the value of the item. This change in policy would also greatly effect drop ship sellers the new return policy requires a default return address meaning that sellers previously accustomed to having returns handled by their drop shippers must now process these returns themselves. While this appears to be a targeted change to select sellers at present do not be surprised if this becomes policy for all seller fulfilled shipments in the near future. What is the reasoning behind this move? For one this would create a more consistent shopping experience for the buyer with no difference between how a return is handled by Amazon compared to a third party seller. Another more likely reason for the change is to push more sellers into the FBA program which nets Amazon more profits. One of the most frustrating issues from the prospective of a seller which Amazon simply seems to ignore or at least not understand Is that many return requests can be resolved by an open line of communication between the buyer and the seller. Even eBay who has a reputation for favoring the buyer over the seller in cases of returns has a far more progressive policy encouraging communication to resolve the return request and offering alternatives to returns such as replacement or exchanges in short they understand that opening a line of commutation can frequently be the difference between a sale and a return which makes neither party money.