Now that Prime Day is over, the sales and offers on Amazon only start escalating as the last half of the year closes in and Black Friday leads into the holiday season. There will inevitably be unwanted gifts and wrong sizes, so let’s take some time to brush up on where sellers and customers stand on the terms for returning goods. Some changes from this year’s Amazon return policy include free replacements for customers processed by Amazon at the cost of the seller, and the return policy is divided into three distinct categories, namely:
- Restocking fee policy
- Returns refund policy
- Replacement policy
In true Amazon style, the terms defining their return policies have changed over the years, leaving most Amazon users a little confused on what terms apply. Are all returns free? Is there a limit to the number of times an individual can return a product?
Over time, Amazon has held that sellers can charge up to 50% of the original item price as a restocking fee on customers. Some merchants even go the extra mile and offer return authorization codes or pre-printed return labels, while others outright decline the return of goods with no previous communication from buyers.
This, however, has all changed this year.
Amazon Restocking Policies
Amazon has now said that restocking costs will no longer be considered for any items that haven’t been used in any way or are defective, as long as these items are returned within the specified window (usually 30 days after delivery), with exceptions on open video games or software, which sellers can charge up to 100% the original price as a restocking fee. Additionally, with the new terms enforced, sellers can only reject returned goods if they were returned after the grace period had already passed.
Amazon Refund Policies
In terms of refund policies, however, sellers are still expected to handle refunds with customers in much the same way as before. For example, a grace period of up to thirty days is still expected, with free delivery if the items are in any way damaged. Sellers are usually pretty generous with their return policy as Amazon dictates flexibility. Another way to score points as a seller and make sure your store is a success is to invest in some mobile apps for Amazon FBA, like SellerMobile, which can help you keep track of everything from daily sales to inventory.
Amazon Replacement Policies
Whenever a buyer returns an item, the seller has the option to either reimburse them for the returned item or offer a replacement of the product they bought initially.
Amazon updated its replacement policy this year, expecting sellers to issue a replacement on every product returned to them by customers, as of April 15, for all damaged or defective products, or any item that is different than advertised. As expected, this didn’t go down well with most sellers, and after a lot of complaining and groaning on their part, Amazon made a concession. Now as it stands, with MFN (Merchant Fulfilled Network) and SFP (Seller Fulfilled Prime) products, sellers with the exact same units in their inventory will be forced to stop issuing returns completely.
While many sellers still feel a little uneasy with these changes, they can at least provide replacements, instead of giving refunds.
What Does This Mean For Sellers?
Unfortunately, with the tide turning on sellers all so suddenly, most sellers are still in the dark as to what these changes may hold for their businesses. Consider, for example, what is to happen if a seller fails to follow this rule, or if a customer refuses to accept the replacement?
As a 3P seller, what you need to know is:
- The thirty-day window still stands when it comes to refunds and reimbursement requests
- After this return window–and for any ineligible items, i.e. products that can’t be returned for hygiene or safety purposes–Amazon sends a refund request to you as the seller
- If the customer opts for a replacement and not a refund, the item still needs to be returned within seven days to qualify for a replacement
- Amazon only sends a shipping update for the replacement item when the initial product has been processed and is on its way back to the seller
- Replacement items are expected to be returned within the seller’s standard shipping time
- Potential delays may affect shipment time, but Amazon doesn’t specify how it deals with these
Issuing Replacements on Amazon
It can be a tricky process to know how and when you should cancel your order for replacements. To avoid this confusion, check out these three things:
- First of all, if the item arrives damaged or misplaced in your warehouse before it gets sent off, then do not worry because Amazon will automatically send an email with instructions on what needs to happen next (e.g., restock or cancel).
- Secondly, canceling the replacement at any point will affect your cancellation rates, so keep that in mind.
- Return less refunds allow customers to get refunds without returning the actual item. They receive a refund or replacement but don’t need to return the original purchase; you’ll only receive shipping notices once replacements arrive.
It is important to understand Amazon’s return and refund policies especially as an Amazon seller, and it’s best to incorporate an Amazon supplier management tool to help with every decision you make when it comes to shipments and handling suppliers. The return and refund policies ensure that both parties–that is seller and customer–are protected from fraudulent transactions as well as unnecessary delays in delivery time due to potential problems with an order.
Every seller on Amazon should take note of these policies as well so that they are prepared and know how to best handle any issues with their products during or after delivery.