The Seller’s Guide to Amazon Returns

Elise Jackson

Post details

  • AUTHOR: Elise Jackson
  • CATEGORY: Amazon Brand Strategy
  • DATE: 12/06/2024

Navigating the world of e-commerce can be challenging, and one of the critical aspects that sellers must master is handling returns.

When a customer returns an item, it‘s important to make it as seamless as possible – you want any part of the customer journey to be great as this reflects well on your brand!

It also protects your business reputation and ensures operational efficiency. There are a few things to keep in mind though when it comes to Amazon, the amount of control you have over returns depends on which fulfilment method you choose – we will get to that in a bit.

 

 

Amazon’s return policy is designed to prioritise customer satisfaction. It allows buyers to return most items within a specified window, typically 30 days.

One of the bigger issues with returns – aside from making a complicated process – is fraudulent returns, which can cost sellers money.

This guide will examine what Amazon returns are, the best practices for handling returns, and how to avoid fraudulent returns.

A quick overview of Amazon’s return policy for sellers

Amazon returns are different for the type of fulfilment methods a seller chooses – Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) or Fulfilment by Merchant (FBM).

 

Fulfilled by Amazon returns policy

You don’t have much control over this as the policy is set by Amazon. Returns are accepted immediately and then an inspection happens after. The window for returns is usually set at 30 days, but this can vary depending on the category like Birthday Lists, which might be up to 90 days.

 

Fulfillment by Merchant returns policy

You have complete control over returns and are expected to match or exceed Amazon’s returns policy. You will need to return requests within 24 hours and refund customers within 48 hours.

Returns will be sent directly back to you and not via Amazon, so you need to provide a return address and returns label for customers.

If you don’t follow the correct protocol then a customer can fill out an A-Z claim which can make the process more difficult to deal with.

 

How to manage Amazon returns effectively for Fulfilment by Merchant sellers

1. Have a clear and easy-to-understand returns policy.

Think back to a time when a brand made it difficult to return an item and how frustrating it was – no one wants the hassle of an overtly complicated returns process. A clear, concise, and customer-friendly return policy helps manage customer expectations and reduces confusion.

 

2. Set up a robust return policy for your store

  •  Defining return conditions and timeframes
    Clearly state the conditions under which returns are accepted, such as item condition, packaging requirements, and acceptable reasons for returns.|
  • Communicate return policy to customers
    Ensure your return policy is easily accessible on your Amazon storefront, product pages, and order confirmation emails.

 

3. Handle returns proactively

  • Provide excellent customer service at all stages

    Try to respond promptly to customer inquiries and issues, or offer a standard response stating waiting time. When a customer doesn’t hear back it can cause frustration and lead to them sending more emails.You can also offer solutions that could prevent a return, such as troubleshooting product problems.

 

  • Streamline the return process

    You can set up processes that take a lot of manual work off your hands! Automate return labels and provide clear instructions to customers on how to return items on your website. Include a FAQ section and collate questions you get asked often about the process there with clear answers.

 

How to deal with returned items

Your self-help checklist for dealing with returns.

1. Inspect the returned items

With a return, you will want to inspect the returned items and determine their condition.

Decide if the item can be resold, restocked, or needs to be discarded and recycled if the item is too damaged.

 

2. Restock and resell returned items

If you have determined the items are in good condition, then update your inventory and resell them. Ensure they meet quality standards before listing again.

 

How to handle defective or damaged items

1. Seek to resolve issues with returned items

Determine whether defective items can be repaired, returned to the supplier, or need to be written off.

2. Communicate with customers regarding defective items
Provide clear communication to customers about the status of their return, and offer replacements or refunds as appropriate.

 

How to minimise returns

While there are many variables outwith your control when it comes to returns, there are some things you can do to minimise a customer sending items back to you:

1. Create accurate product descriptions and images

Provide detailed and accurate product descriptions and high-quality images to ensure customers know exactly what they are purchasing.

 

2. Have strict quality control measures

To avoid returns because of defects, implement strict quality control measures to ensure products meet customer expectations.

 

3. Speak to the customer before the return is made

Proactively address customer concerns and issues before they lead to returns, there may be an opportunity to explain how an item works in more detail so a customer might keep the item.

 

How to manage returns on Seller-Fulfilled Orders

For seller-fulfilled orders, Amazon provides return labels, but the seller is responsible for processing the return and issuing refunds.

You will be automatically enrolled in the Prepaid REturn Label Programme. Amazon will send the customer a prepaid shipping label on the seller’s behalf through the Buy Shipping Services.

 

How to manage returns as a Fulfilment by Amazon seller

As we stated earlier, you have little control over this process as Amazon takes care of it for you. Returns are set at 30 days, and Amazon accepts the returns almost immediately.

The returned item then is determined if it can be sold again, or if the defect can be fixed otherwise it will not be able to be relisted.

 

How to appeal a return on Amazon as an FBA seller

If you are an FBA Seller and Amazon has approved a return that you have flagged as fraudulent, suspicious or don’t agree with their decision, you can open an appeal.

This requires attachments to help with your appeal, like photos, images of the shipping label, tracking ID and proof of delivery.

This can take up to a week for a response, so hang in there!

 

Recognise and prevent return fraud

Unfortunately, some customers will try to return items fraudulently, which comes at a cost to you as a seller. It’s reported that one-tenth of returns are fraudulent. So, what can you do to avoid this?

1. Identify suspicious return patterns
Monitor for patterns that indicate return fraud, such as frequent returns by the same customer or returns of high-value items.

 

2. Implement fraud prevention measures
Set up systems to flag suspicious returns and implement policies that discourage fraudulent activities, such as requiring proof of purchase and using tamper-evident packaging.

 

Our thoughts

Returns can be the less exciting part of returning your business, it doesn’t feel terribly amazing when you see customers return your products to you, but it can for a number of reasons.

And how you deal with them is everything – it has the potential to make or break a customer’s relationship with you. Think about all the times when you’ve experienced the worst service at a company, or from a brand that won’t make it easy to return a genuine return, these people could potentially never buy from you again, but also vent about these experiences online and to their friends. Not great for your brand.

So having an effective strategy, for whatever fulfilment method you use, is a must. Be clear, and concise at every possible part of your returns page so there is complete understanding from the customer about what to expect.

Consider return prevention methods to educate the customer on how to use the product, this could help prevent a return. Ensure your product listing is clear with concise descriptions, images, and the quality of images.

Having a great returns policy and strategy not only gives great customer satisfaction but will also save you money, which is definitely a win-win!

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