‘Sales’ and ‘returns’ are the two sides of coin every Amazon seller has to face. More than often, customers skim through the product tiles and make a wrong purchase. At times, the returns happen on part of your mistakes, like you consigned the wrong item, colour or size. Happens!
Either way, as a consequence you receive a displeasing email from Amazon, announcing a ‘refund initiation’ for your sold product. Amazon has put forth one of the most customer friendly return policies (not to forget the recent August update) and therefore, it’s the sellers who mostly find themselves a dud in the blame game. The worst part of it all is- that many Amazon sellers are caught unawares, and this results in bland interactions with the customers when they pass on such requests. Brace yourself!
What exactly is Amazon Return Policy?
Here are a few brief points:
- For ‘most’ products, buyers have 30-45 day window from date of delivery, to return items for free and a full refund.
- Items must be sold and/or fulfilled by Amazon directly; otherwise customer has to pay for return shipping.
- Aug 5, 2017 POLICY UPDATE: Oct 2, 2017 onwards, third party sellers (those who ship products from their home, garage or warehouses) now fall under the same return policy as items fulfilled directly by Amazon and their sold products will be “automatically authorized” for return.
The August Update
On Aug 5, this year, Amazon announced an update in its return policy as per which:
- Buyers will no longer need to contact the seller before returning a product, and the seller will get no opportunity to communicate with the buyer.
- Buyers will just have to print a ‘prepaid return shipping label’ through the Online Return Centre at once.
- Plus, Amazon announced “returnless refunds”, which, as per Amazon was requested by many sellers. This will empower sellers to offer a refund without taking back the product(s) that involve high price shipping and are difficult to resell.
Follow these simple points for a smooth sailing through returns:
1. Make your return and refund info flexible and accessible
Just like Amazon has devoted a separate ‘Returns Centre’, for all their return and refund related documentation for the customers, all sellers must also put forth their return related guidelines in an easily accessible manner. No customer will bother to take extra pain to dig for information about your return policies, (some hardly ever read product descriptions.) So you must put this information out there, through a link to a returns page or through FAQs etc. The medium you chose won’t matter, but an easy access to the related info for the buyer does.
Provide speedy and smooth returns. Define reasonable refund policies. Amazon clearly states that when a customer returns an item, their refund and how it is issued may vary depending on the condition of the item, how long they’ve had the item and how the item was purchased. Ultimately, more customer awareness will result in lesser headaches for you.
2. Maintain log of the return notification emails from Amazon.
In case of a prime shipping order, as soon as a customer triggers the return of an item, Amazon instantly issues the refund, even without waiting for the item to be returned. After this, you will be notified by Amazon, through an email, about the refund issued from your account. What you need to do is- maintain a log of these return emails. This is step important, so that you can easily keep a tab on whether the items are de facto returned by the customer within the stipulated 45 day period or not. If not, you may request Amazon for a reimbursement.
3. Inspect the returned items
For all the items returned to the FBA warehouses, find out the reason for the return by following the steps mentioned below:
a. Log in to your Seller central Account.
b. Under ‘Reports’, select ‘Fulfilment’, then ‘Customer Concessions’ and click on ‘Returns’.
c. Select the respective item in the report, and read the reason given for the return.
If you are unable to find the item, raise a ticket with Seller Central and ask them the reason for return.
Nevertheless, you must have all the returns sent back to you for inspection, as the warehouse workers might have skipped something important.
4. Protect your seller feedback score by contacting the buyer.
After a buyer requests a refund, the next option they get is to leave feedback for the seller. Grab this opportunity to contact the buyer and personally apologize for their bad experience. This will project you as a responsible seller, and the buyer will not leave you a negative feedback, and if they have already given one, they will most likely remove it. As a seller customer retention is a bigger achievement than sales.
- Learn from the giant (Amazon)
- Follow its lead (Amazon’s customer policies)
- Gain an inheritance from its wealth (Amazon customer base).