Customer returns are inevitable and this is something that e-commerce sellers have to deal with most of the time. There are many reasons why customers return their orders and not all of them are the seller’s fault. If you are an Amazon seller, you should pay close attention to Amazon return policy after 30 days.
In this blog post, I will discuss what is Amazon return policy, FBA and FBM return policy, common reasons why customers return items, and what to do if the returned item is damaged or outside the return policy.
Read until the end to find out what you can do to items returned to Amazon warehouses.
What is the Amazon Return Policy?
Orders that are shipped from the Amazon warehouse and Amazon.com can be returned as long as it is within 30 days from the time it was delivered. Most Amazon sellers also accept returns within the same time frame.
While orders shipped from Amazon.com and Amazon warehouses accept returns within 30 days, there are some exceptions to this.
While most sellers follow Amazon’s return policy, some sellers’ return policies may differ. If the seller’s listing qualifies for Amazon Prime, it will be subject to the same return rules as Amazon.com-shipped items. There are also items that are non-returnable such as live indoor plants, fresh flowers, or insects. However, they can be refunded.
Another exception is products that can be returned even after 30 days or have a longer return timeline. Examples of these are mattresses that can be returned within 100 days from the date of receipt. Another example is items bought from a buyer’s Amazon Custom Gift list as a present as they can be returned within 90 days from the time of delivery.
For more information regarding Amazon return policy after 30 days see Amazon.com Returns Policy
Amazon Return Policy (FBA)
Amazon manages fulfillment and customer service on behalf of sellers using FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), including the processing of customer returns. When deciding whether an item is eligible for a return, Amazon follows its own customer return policy. Even though it is clearly the customers’ fault that the goods are damaged or defective, as an FBA seller, you have no influence over whether a product is accepted as a return.
Most of the time, Amazon allows customers to return items within 30 days of receiving their orders. However, Amazon can make exceptions and accept returns even after the 30-day period has expired.
In the event of an exception, Amazon will tell the seller via email that a return has been initiated, and the cost of the order will be deducted from the seller’s account balance. This leaves the sellers with no choice but to accept the return.
Customer orders that fall under the Baby Category that are still in new condition and unopened are allowed to return items within 90 days. However, products that have been used and opened are no longer eligible to return items in the extended time frame. There won’t be any deduction to the seller’s account balance as Amazon will pay the return shipping.
Amazon Return Policy FBM
Returns for merchants that fulfill their own orders are handled almost similarly to FBA returns. FBM sellers must match or exceed Amazon’s return policy, according to Amazon’s seller-fulfilled return policy. This implies you’ll have to accept returns within Amazon’s 30-day return period.
Furthermore, any returns will be routed to the address indicated in your seller account rather than Amazon. Within two days after receiving the return package, you must refund the buyer.
Professional sellers on Amazon are enrolled automatically in the Prepaid Returns Label program. This means that if a buyer requested a return and it is still within the acceptable timeline, Amazon will send a prepaid return shipping label to the buyer on your behalf.
For return requests that are considered an exemption or are made outside of the return policy, Amazon will forward to you the return requests so that you can manually review them. What this means to FBM sellers is that they don’t have the chance to talk to the customers first to try and solve the issue before buyers are refunded automatically.
What Happens to the Items Returned to Amazon Warehouse?
Once the returned item is received by Amazon, they will inspect the item’s condition to find out if the product is still sellable or not. For items that are unused and are still in good condition, they will be returned to the seller’s inventory to be used for a future order.
In cases where a returned item is no longer sellable or is damaged, Amazon will investigate whether the damage is caused by the customer or by Amazon. If the damage was caused by Amazon, they need to reimburse the seller for the damaged product.
Read my article about Amazon FBA returns to learn how to request reimbursement. Aside from reimbursement for returned items, there are also other kinds of reimbursement for Amazon that sellers can ask for.
If it was the customer who caused the damage or the courier during the shipment the seller will not be reimbursed. The item will also be marked unsellable. For any item that is tagged as Customer Damaged or Defective, the seller is required to submit a removal order. This should be done within 30 days from the time the item was received back at the fulfillment center.
What are the Common Reasons Why Customers Return Products?
There are several reasons why a customer would return an item. It could be the seller’s or the customer’s fault. When a buyer submits a return request, they are required to choose the reason for wanting to return the item.
Amazon had listed different reasons for the customer to choose from. This helps Amazon determine who’s at fault for the return and who will shoulder the return shipping costs.
When customers return the item due to ordering the wrong color or size, accidental order, change of mind, better price available, incompatible, or no reason given, the customer is responsible for the return shipping costs.
It’s the seller’s fault if the reason for return is due to the order arriving too late, damaged due to poor packaging and during shipping, missing accessories or parts, etc.
Sellers should also be mindful as there are customers who will take advantage of Amazon’s return policy. There are some shady customers that will say that they receive the wrong item or that they haven’t received the order yet just to get a refund even if they receive the correct item.
Some FBM sellers take pictures or videos of the orders and send them to the buyers before shipping them, especially for expensive items. This can help them prove that they send the right item or that they have shipped the order properly. While this can be a lot of work, this is one way to protect yourself from scammers or shady customers.
Other safety measures you can try are by getting insurance on packages for expensive products, getting signatures for all items you ship, and by using a tracked delivery system.
What if the Customer Returned Item is Damaged or Outside Return’s Policy?
If in case the returned item is damaged or is outside the Amazon return policy after 30 days, sellers are allowed to charge the buyers a restocking fee. It is a percentage of the price of the item. The restocking fee will also depend on the returned item’s condition.
Sellers are only allowed to charge a restocking fee if the returned item falls beyond the 30-day time frame and is damaged, used, or defective.
Some examples where sellers can charge a customer a restocking fee are:
- A return outside the return policy with a reason of change of mind and item was received in original condition. Sellers can charge the customer up to 20% of the product’s price for a restocking fee.
- A book that is returned within the allowable return window but has been used. A restocking fee of up to 50% of the book’s price is allowed.
- If the customer changed their mind and returns a video game or software that has been opened, sellers can charge them up to 100% of the price of the item.
What to Do with Returned Items?
We know by now that returns have a big impact on a seller’s profit. To help sellers recover some of the money they lost due to returned items, Amazon has put up several programs to find a new place for used or damaged items.
FBA Grade and Resell
This program allows sellers to sell returned inventories that are considered unfulfillable. Sellers can relist them as used items. So, instead of spending more money to destroy the items or have them return to the sellers, they have the option to resell them as used products.
To get into the program, sellers should submit a list of their unfulfillable inventory. Amazon will evaluate the condition and grade the items. Below is Amazon’s grading system.
- Used- Like New
- Used – Very Good
- Used – Good
- Used – Acceptable
After Amazon had finished grading the products, they will create a new listing for the seller.
FBA Donations Program
Instead of destroying unsellable returned items, Amazon created the FBA Donations Program. It’s an environmentally friendly alternative that helps lessen landfill waste.
Items that go into the FBA Donations program are donated to chosen US charities.
With Amazon’s partnership with Good360, they are able to distribute donated products across several nonprofit organizations in the US. The FBA Donations program is a great way to discard unwanted inventory and reduce waste and the best part is it can help a lot of people in need.
For sellers who wish to recover some money, they have the option to submit a liquidation request through Amazon’s FBA Liquidations program. Sellers can liquidate returned items and excess inventory than have the items destroyed or pay for storage fees.
Sellers just have to send a liquidation request via the Seller Central. Once the request has been submitted, Amazon will examine and evaluate the items and decide on the average selling price. Wholesale liquidators can pay around 5%-10% of the item’s average selling price.
If your inventory has been purchased, you can expect payment from Amazon within 60 days.
Resell on Other Marketplaces
Aside from the three programs of Amazon, sellers can also resell returned items on other marketplaces outside of Amazon. Many Amazon sellers also offer their products on other e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, eBay, Etsy, Walmart Marketplace, and even Facebook Marketplace.
If you haven’t tried selling on any of these marketplaces before, now is the time to check them out. Be sure to follow their guidelines and list your items accordingly, especially the condition of the products.
Sellers need to monitor the number of returned items, the reasons, and the kind of products that are usually returned to them as it can affect their seller’s performance or worst have their account suspended. Aside from that, they can lose a lot of money not only for the shipping costs and refunds but also on storage fees.
What’s your experience with Amazon’s return policy? Share them below in the comments section.