Posted by Alex Jackson on 25th Aug 2017
Amazon is changing their returns policy and these changes are pretty significant for the third party sellers handling their own fulfillment. Fulfillment by merchant or FBM has been the preferred method for smaller sellers or those not willing or able to absorb the costs of fulfillment by Amazon which can add up if you are storing large quantities of merchandise for extended periods of time. The changes at their core are intended to bring the purchasing experience from third party merchants directly in line with that of a purchase from Amazon. No longer will the customer have to request a return from the merchant but it will be automatically authorized and the customer will print a prepaid return label at the seller’s expense. Sellers will have to issue the refund within two days of receipt of the return otherwise the credit will be issued automatically.
There are a few points that work in the sellers favor such as sellers will have the option to appeal a return in the event that the item was damaged or the reason for the return was not valid. In addition, sellers will be able to charge a restocking fee which should help to offset some of these returns fees. Sellers will also have the option of a no return refund this option makes the sense if the cost of the return exceeds the value of the item. Last the seller will have the option to request exceptions on certain items.
On the surface this may seem like bad news for FBM sellers but there are a few upsides that can be easily overlooked. Everyone probably knows a person who shops on Amazon but never buys from a third party seller. The reasons are usually pretty absurd I don’t know where its coming from, I don’t trust third party sellers etc. Typically, these people also end up paying more for the item because of their reluctance. Creating a consistent return process, no matter who fulfills the order may go a long way towards convincing these reluctant customers to give third parties a try. Second this new policy may actually help drive up prices which would be a welcome relief from the usual race to the bottom on pricing that Amazon sellers have become accustomed to.
Returns are simply a cost of doing business, there really is no avoiding them so keeping the process consistent and speedy is in the customers and the sellers best interest.