When you sell on Amazon, returns are just part of the game. Sometimes, the blame falls on you for Amazon returns: You shipped the wrong size, color, or SKU. Oops!
Amazon returns can also stem from:
→ You being out of stock when an order is placed
→ A buyer not receiving an order due to delivery issues
But in many cases, Amazon returns are not your fault at all; it’s the buyer who’s to blame.
And guess what:
Amazon requires sellers to accept returns -- even if the buyer is at fault.
For most products, the return window is 30 days from the purchase date. But, Amazon has specific return specs if you sell BMVD items, software, electronics, or baby products.
Here’s what Amazon says about how sellers must handle returns and inquiries:
This means that there’s inherent risk built into doing business on Amazon.
The tradeoff, of course, is that Amazon provides the best online arena for selling success. (Of course, Walmart Marketplace is fast becoming a major player on the eCommerce scene, so savvy sellers, take note!) That’s why you should expect to eventually have to take a dose of bad with all the good on Amazon.
Here’s how to best prepare for those times.
When Amazon buyers “change their mind” about a purchase
This is what Amazon says to do when buyers change their minds about an item that you shipped:
So, in these (hopefully) rare instances, you’re at least protected from having to refund shipping costs.
And, in some cases, you can charge restocking fees to partially make up for losses.
On the flipside, if you ship something defective, Amazon encourages issuing concessions to ease negative buyer feelings. This isn’t required, but it’s something you may want to consider for damage control in certain situations.
Amazon returns for merchant-fulfilled (MFN) sellers vs FBA sellers
Here’s a peek at Amazon’s third-party seller (non-FBA) return policy:
During and after the holidays when returns are rampant, this FBA perk can prove to be very valuable.
FBA sellers should follow these steps for Amazon returns to protect their feedback score and ensure they collect all reimbursements.
MFN sellers, on the other hand, have to deal with a brand new Amazon returns policy that makes life much more difficult for them.
Amazon's new returns policy for MFN sellers states that return requests will get automatically authorized and buyers will be able to print pre-paid return shipping labels, causing sellers to feel pretty peeved.
On top of that, sellers are afraid that a new policy of "returnless refunds" will cause buyers with ill intent to act out against merchants even more.
While Amazon defended these changes saying that some had been requested by sellers and that they'd help better the marketplace overall, MFN sellers are concerned that this new returns policy will greatly impact their Q4 success.
What to do before you issue a refund
When buyers request refunds for Amazon returns, here’s what Amazon advises you do prior to making any refunds:
When Amazon buyers have bad intentions
The bad side of selling on Amazon is that some buyers are looking to take advantage of you.
Sometimes, the Amazon scammers are the last people you’d ever expect, as is often the case with a practice called “wardrobing.” That’s when people order clothes with the intention of wearing them and then returning them. Sadly, wardrobing is more popular than you might think.
On top of that, Amazon has very buyer-friendly policies, as you saw above.
So, how can you protect yourself from buyers trying to scam you on Amazon returns?
The best safety measure is to take specific steps before you list, sell, and ship to ensure you’re best protected.
One best practice is taking note (or, better, taking photos) of product serial numbers. That way, if buyers make returns, you can prove they scammed you if the serial numbers don’t match.
You may think this is a big to-do. But, there are bad buyers who order products with the intention of returning similar, but inferior, items in their place.
Even worse, there are buyers who will receive a perfectly packaged product and then claim they never received anything.
When this happens, it could be a double blow to sellers, as you lose out on money and product.
So, what can you do?
How to protect yourself from Amazon returns scammers
To combat this, some sellers take photos or videos of themselves packing pricier products before they ship. That gives them evidence that proves they shipped items in case buyers claim they didn’t receive an order.
Obviously, these safeguards add more steps to your already heavy workload. But, having these protections in place can save you money and keep your reputation intact if buyers try to scam you.
Here are a few other safety measures you can take to avoid run-ins with Amazon returns scammers:
→ Use tracked delivery
→ Require signature on all packages
→ Get insurance on packages containing high-cost items
On top of these practices, here’s what Amazon advises third-party sellers to do to protect themselves from shady buyers:
Dealing with Amazon returns will be much easier if you take these precautions before shipping.
But, in the end, it’s hard to stop buyers on a mission to game the Amazon returns system and rip you off.
What happens to FBA items that customers return to Amazon?
FBA sellers should stay on top of any returns issued to their accounts. If Amazon deems the products returned as “unfulfillable," they could wind up sitting in inventory and costing you money.
How automated repricing can indirectly help you deal with Amazon returns
While automated repricing doesn’t directly handle Amazon returns, it does help by freeing up your time in other areas.
If you currently spend hours each week on manual repricing, an automated repricer can eliminate that workload.
By outsourcing repricing to strategic automation software, you’ll have more time to input processes that minimize Amazon returns and scams. Time to setup your product listings and shipping properly, and to shoot “before” videos to prove you shipped products if a buyer ever returns an empty box and claims you shipped it that way.
At this point in time, you can't automate safety measures for Amazon returns with software. So, any other tasks that automation can handle more effectively and efficiently will help you find time to improve your safeguards.
Curious to know how automation software can make running a profitable eCommerce business less stressful?
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