Mar 13, 2024  ·  12 min read

How to Navigate Amazon’s Return Policy for Sellers in 2024

Demian Lazurko – CEO at MyRealProfit
Demian Lazurko
CEO @ MyRealProfit
How to Navigate Amazon Return Policy for Sellers in 2024

Customer returns are a core aspect of e-commerce, and Amazon is no different. No matter how well you run your business, returns are something you have to deal with occasionally. Learning how to handle them is essential for customer satisfaction, and building a successful business on Amazon. In this blog post, we’ll break down how to handle Amazon seller returns and the new Amazon return policy changes of 2024.

What is Amazon Return Policy?

Amazon’s return policy dictates that customers have 30 days to return an item if they’re dissatisfied with it. Although the official Amazon return period is 30 days, they do make exceptions in special cases and different categories. You must familiarize yourself with the nuances applicable to your product. Another thing worth noting is that the procedures for Amazon FBA returns differ from FBM returns procedures.

New in 2024: Amazon Return Fees

2024 brought with it changes in how Amazon processes returns. Amazon is introducing new return processing fees for products with a high return rate — excluding apparel and shoes. The logic behind Amazon charging for returns is to reduce waste and cushion itself against the operational costs of returns. The new fee is pivotal for sellers as it applies to products that exceed a return rate threshold specific to certain categories. This new Amazon return policy will also affect profitability since sellers have to factor in the potential cost of returns. It’s imperative that you go to your FBA returns dashboard to review your return rates against these thresholds and adjust your business strategies to accommodate the new Amazon return changes.

Key Components of Amazon’s Return Policy

Let’s break down the essential components of Amazon Return Policy for sellers:

1. Return Window and Eligibility

The return window is a core component of Amazon’s return policy. So, how long do you have to return something on Amazon? As we said earlier, the standard Amazon return time limit is 30 days after purchase, but they make exceptions in special cases. Some items have stricter or more return lenient return periods than others. It’s essential to be aware of the specific return policies that apply to your products to ensure compliance and customer satisfaction.

2. Amazon Return Reasons and Conditions

Customers can initiate returns for various reasons, including, but not limited to, receiving the wrong item, defective products, or simply changing their minds. The condition of the returned item also plays a critical role in processing returns. Items must generally be returned in new and unopened condition, except in cases of defects or damage. It’s important to understand the reasons and conditions for returns to help you better manage customer expectations.

3. Return Shipping and Fees

The new Amazon return policy change includes introducing returns processing fees that impact both FBA and FBM sellers. Amazon determines who pays the return shipping cost based on the reason for the return. Suppose a customer is returning a product because it’s defective, damaged, doesn’t match the description, or generally anything that’s the seller’s fault. In that case, the seller could be liable to cover the return shipping cost. If the customer returns the product because they don’t like it or they’ve changed their mind, the customer will cover the shipping cost either upfront or as a deduction from their refund.

4. Refund Process and Timelines

What happens to Amazon returns? Once a return is received and inspected, the refund process begins. So, how long do Amazon refunds take to process after a return? As a seller, Amazon typically gives you 48 hours to issue a refund upon receiving a return. Maintaining this timeframe is crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction and staying in Amazon’s good books. Refunds can be issued to the original payment method or as a store credit. Sometimes, Amazon may issue refunds on behalf of FBA sellers to expedite the refund process.

Is Amazon’s Return Policy Different for FBA and FBM Sellers?

Understanding the nuances between Amazon FBA and FBM return policies is crucial for sellers to effectively manage returns. Let’s look at how Amazon return policies apply to FBA and FBM sellers.

Amazon FBA Return Policy

When you’re selling via FBA, Amazon handles your customer service and returns processing, giving you a hands-off selling experience. Amazon autonomously decides if a product is eligible for return or not, and you as a seller have no say on that even if the product defect is the customer’s fault. The standard 30-day Amazon return period applies in FBA.

Step-by-Step Amazon FBA Return Process

Here’s what the return process looks like for FBA sellers:

1. Notification of Return Request

Amazon will inform you via your Seller Central account when a return request is made. Although Amazon handles customer service and Amazon FBA returns, staying informed is beneficial.

2. Amazon Processes the Return

Since Amazon oversees the return, there’s no need for you to authorize it directly. Amazon provides the return shipping label to the customer and manages the logistics of the item’s return to the warehouse.

3. Item Inspection by Amazon

Upon receiving the returned item, Amazon inspects it to verify the condition of the product and the validity of the Amazon return reason. This step determines if the product is eligible for restocking.

4. Amazon FBA Refund Issuance

After inspection, Amazon will automatically proceed with issuing a refund to the customer. Amazon FBA refunds are done according to the refund policy you have set, which often mirrors Amazon’s return policies. 

5. Restocking or Disposal of the Item

If the returned item is in sellable condition, Amazon will restock the product in your inventory. If it’s not, Amazon will follow the disposal or return-to-seller process, depending on your preferences set in the FBA settings.

6. Review Return Metrics

Regularly check your Amazon FBA Returns dashboard to review and assess your return metrics. This can offer insights into return patterns and help identify potential issues with your products or listings.

Amazon FBM Return Policy

Amazon’s returns policy works differently for FBM sellers than they do for FBA sellers. Amazon’s FBM return policy dictates that sellers should match or outperform Amazon’s standard return policy. As an FBM seller, you have direct control over your returns process. You must handle customer inquiries, process returns, and issue refunds within two days of receiving the returned item, according to Amazon’s guidelines and their return policies. This approach offers a more personalized approach to returns. However, it requires a deeper understanding and active management of the return process to ensure compliance with Amazon’s standards and customer satisfaction.

Step-by-Step Amazon FBM Return Process

Let’s see what the FBM return process looks like.

1. Receive the Amazon Return Request

Monitor your seller central account for return requests. Amazon will notify you via email when a return request is made by a customer.

2. Review the Return Request

Review the Amazon return reason provided by the customer. Confirm if the request falls within your seller return policy and Amazon return policy.

3. Authorize the Return

If the Amazon return request is valid, approve it on your Seller Central dashboard. Amazon then sends the customer a return label and instructions on how to return the product.

4. Communicate with the customer

One of the upsides of selling FBM is you can communicate directly with the customer and offer a more personalized Amazon return experience. Reach out to the customer directly if necessary to have a better understanding of their concerns and why they want to return the item. Communicating with customers can improve customer satisfaction and increase brand loyalty.

5. Receive and Inspect the Returned Item

Once you receive the returned item, inspect it to ensure it matches the Amazon return reason and determine if the product is in sellable condition.

6. Issue a Refund

Based on the inspection, proceed to issue a refund to the customer. Amazon return policy dictates that refunds should be done within 48 hours of receiving the return.

7. Restock or Dispose of the Product

Decide whether the returned item can be restocked and sold again or if it needs to be disposed of. This will depend on the condition of the product and the reason for its return.

Strategies to Minimize Amazon Returns

Although returns are a part of Amazon that we can’t completely get rid of, there are some strategies you can deploy to reduce returns and improve customer satisfaction. Let’s look at them.

Create Thorough Product Listings

Avoid Amazon returns at the source by ensuring your product descriptions, images, and specifications are top-notch. Clear, accurate listings help set the right customer expectations. A detailed, real depiction of your product can preempt misconceptions and thus reduce returns.

Communicate With Your Customers

Clear communication can significantly reduce returns. Implement a robust communication strategy that engages customers at every step of their purchasing journey. Clarifying product features or addressing concerns preemptively can go a long way in reducing misunderstandings that lead to returns.

Leverage Data Analytics

Utilize data analytics to discern patterns and root causes of returns. Analyzing customer feedback, Amazon return reasons and product performance metrics allows sellers to identify and rectify specific issues affecting their return rates. My Real Profit offers a range of data analytic solutions to empower your Amazon strategy and help you make data-driven decisions.

Enhance Product Quality Control

Elevate your product quality checks to ensure what customers receive exceeds their expectations. Dealing with products that have recurring quality issues? Consider switching suppliers or enhancing your production process.

Offer Exceptional Post-Purchase Support

Beyond the sale, offer outstanding customer service, including troubleshooting, product use guidance, and proactive follow-ups. Investing in customer service resources to offer comprehensive post-purchase support can solve customer complaints before they escalate into Amazon returns.

Accurate Sizing and Fit Information

If you sell apparel or other size-dependent items, you need to establish a system to ensure customers get a clear picture of the item sizing before buying. Detailed sizing charts and fit guidance minimize the likelihood of returns due to incorrect sizing.

Implement a Feedback Loop

Customer feedback is critical to the continued improvement of your business. Create a systematic process for collecting and acting on customer feedback. This feedback loop can be crucial for continuous improvement, enabling you to make adjustments that reduce returns over time.

Additional Amazon Return Policy Considerations

To help you get a deeper understanding of the Amazon return policy, let’s look at additional considerations and answers to common questions regarding Amazon returns.

Can You Return Used Items to Amazon?

Amazon return policy gives customers 30 days to return items if they want to. If a customer has used the product, they can still return it as long as they do it within the 30-day return period and the product is in its original condition and packaging. Another way to look at this is if a customer buys from Amazon Renewed and decides to return the item. Amazon offers a Renewed Guarantee for renewed items which lets customers return products within 90 days of purchase.

How Many Returns Does Amazon Allow?

Amazon tracks the amount of times a customer returns an item to prevent shoppers from abusing the Amazon return policy. If a customer returns more than 80% of their orders, Amazon will issue a warning and may even restrict that customer’s account. Additionally, the return reason matters. If a customer returns more than 10% of their orders because they changed their mind, then Amazon will issue a warning.

Can Customers Return Items When There’s a Better Price?

Unlike other online retailers, Amazon doesn’t price match and doesn’t allow customers to return an item if they see it sold at a lower price. If a customer sees the same product sold for a cheaper price, they can only buy it again for the lower price.

What’s Amazon Clothes Return Policy?

Amazon’s return policy on fashion items demands customers return items in new condition and with original packaging. A customer can’t return clothes after wearing them or removing the label tags.

Can Customers Return Items When Amazon’s Return Window is Closed?

Sometimes Amazon allows customers to return an item after the 30-day window closes, but this is done on a case-to-case basis and mostly doesn’t allow returns past 60 days after purchase.

How to Cancel Amazon Return?

A seller can’t cancel a return on Amazon. If a customer initiates a return and you decline it, they can file a claim against you. Customers, on the other hand, can cancel a return on their Amazon account in the Your Orders section. If the customer has already been refunded, they’d have to reimburse the refund if they cancel the return.

How Long Does Amazon Take to Refund a Return?

Amazon Refund Timelines

It takes 5-7 days to process a refund after the customer’s return is processed. The refund is reimbursed in the customer’s mode of payment, so sometimes it may take longer to reflect, depending on the receiving bank processing times. If you get a refund in the form of an Amazon gift card, it will take 4 hours.

What’s Amazon Try Before You Buy Rules?

Amazon’s Try Before You Buy service, part of the Prime Wardrobe offering, allows customers to order clothing, shoes, and accessories without immediate payment. Customers can keep the items for a trial period to decide what they like and return what they don’t want at no cost. Here are Amazon’s rules governing this service:

  • Eligibility: This service is only available to Amazon Prime members. Products eligible for Try Before You Buy are marked as Prime Wardrobe-eligible.
  • Order Limit: Customers can only order between three to eight items per order. The trial period lasts seven days from the day the customer receives the items.
  • Returns: Items must be returned within the specified trial using the prepaid return label and box. The items must be unworn, unwashed, and with original tags. Amazon fashion returns policy applies to the items a customer chooses to keep after the trial.
  • Charges: Customers only pay for the items they choose to keep, or items that aren’t acceptable for return based on the item condition, or missed return window.
  • Exclusions: Some categories such as specific luxury fashion items and jewelry aren’t eligible for Try Before You Buy.

What does Amazon do with returns?

Returned FBA items undergo a rigorous inspection process at the Amazon warehouse to determine the best course of action. Amazon aims to minimize waste and recover as much value as possible. Returned items can be restocked as new or used, donated, or destroyed if they’re faulty.

Can customers return Amazon items without original packaging?

Customers should always return items in their original packaging. According to Amazon return policy, items returned without their original packaging and documentation will be rejected.

Wrapping Up

Abiding by Amazon’s rules is a core part of becoming a successful seller, and understanding Amazon’s return policy is a huge part of customer satisfaction on Amazon. This blog post will be your guiding beacon to navigating the return policies on Amazon. And if you want to grow on Amazon, you must also stay on top of your analytics. That’s where My Real Profit comes in. Our Analytics software suite offers you all your Amazon analytics on an easy-to-navigate dashboard. It empowers you to make data-driven decisions that propel your Amazon business to success.

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