Returns suck! I remember being so pissed about my first couple ones and getting all annoyed with the customers for returning stuff. Especially, when they give a BS reason so that they don’t have to pay for return shipping. However, the sooner I learned to let go of this anger and just realize it’s the cost of doing business on the greatest selling platform in the world, the sooner I was able to focus my energy on much more important things like find more products to sell (that would eventually get returned). In this blog I’m going to try to best to walk you through the return process to try to make this process easier for you.
The process gets kicked off when the customer decides they no longer want the item or have an issue with the item. They then initiate a return and are required to pick a reason. Here are some reason they are given as options to choose from. Note: Customer only see description and some reason codes are category specific.
If they have just changed their mind and decided they don’t want the item anymore, they will be prompted to pay for the shipping. However, if they push the blame on the seller (item not as described, used as new, defective, etc.) then Amazon pays the shipping for them. Therefore, many times customers will select the reason code that gives them free shipping.
When Amazon receives the return request from the buyer they will be immediately refunded and you will be notified via email. The email gives you no details about the reason the item was returned and just states the fact that a return has been requested.
The customer then has 45 day to send the item back or their refund will be reversed. You will not know the reason the customer selected or the status (e.g., is it sellable or did buyer trash it) of the item coming back until Amazon receives it. When Amazon receives the item they will review the condition of the item and determine the status of the item. To see more details on the items Amazon has received from the customer you will want to go to Reports -> Fulfillment.
From the Fulfillment tab of reports, you want to navigate to Customer Concessions -> Returns. From here you can run a report that will give you all of the details on returns that Amazon has received back from customers.
Your report will look something like this:
There are three key fields in the report.
- Reason: This is the reason the customer provided to Amazon when initiating the return.
- Status: This is what Amazon has done with the item. These are the statuses possible:
- Reimbursed: Amazon has reimbursed you for the returned item. This doesn’t happen often, but will happen on carrier damaged items.
- Unit returned to Inventory: They do this with both sellable and damaged items (see disposition
- Disposition: This is Amazon’s disposition of the returned item. Here are the disposition statues they will use. Note the description is not included on your report, but this chart will give you further insight of what the disposition codes mean.
All returns are automatically sent back to Amazon and they will always perform their own review and provide the sellable and unsellable statuses. If they deem something to be customer damaged or defective you should always recall that inventory and review it yourself. In some cases, there is no issue with the item and you can resend it right back to Amazon to sell. In some cases, it is truly customer damaged and you’ll need to sell as used (if possible) on Amazon, sell on ebay, donate it or might need to trash it if customer damaged has made the item useless. Also if customer doesn’t send back the full item or you feel damage may have occurred during shipment, you should open a case requesting reimbursement.
In addition to reviewing the condition of your items, you can use Amazon repacking service to repackage items (think clothes into a new polybag) that wouldn’t be sellable in there current condition received by Amazon. Below is a summary of that service directly from Seller Central:
“The FBA Repackaging Service provides FBA sellers with the opportunity to return some customer returned units to sellable status when the units are otherwise in new and sellable condition, but the packaging was opened or damaged.
When a customer returns an item where the packaging is damaged but the item is otherwise in new condition, FBA will evaluate the item and perform repackaging services (such as poly-bagging, bubble-wrapping, or boxing) on eligible units.
If you choose to opt out of this service, the returned units with open or damaged packaging will be moved to your unsellable inventory and will require removal or disposal at your expense.
Not all products are eligible for repackaging. The FBA Repackaging Service will evaluate each unit on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it can be repackaged. Products that have branded packaging (product images or premium packaging) or are packaged in glossy, multi-colored (more than 2 colors) will not be repackaged to protect the customer experience.”
You can modify the repacking settings within the Settings -> Account Settings -> Repacking Settings section. If you’d like you can enable it only for categories such as clothing and shoes.
While Amazon is supposed to automatically reimburse you on any instance a customer does not send back the return, this does not always happen. Therefore you should manually monitor the returns that are refunded against the returns that Amazon actually receives. If you’d rather not add another manual step to your processes you can use a tool AMZsuite like that will monitor it for you and automatically open a case with Amazon in situations in which Amazon does not automatically reimburse you. They will take a fee, but it is one less thing to worry about. AMZSuite (affiliate link) will give you $30 in credits to test drive their tool, no credit card required, so you can try it risk free. We will have a more detailed blog on AMZsuite itself, but feel free to comment below or on the Sourcing Simplifiers Facebook group if you have any questions.
The sooner you learn to accept that and move on, the sooner you can focus on more important areas of your business like sourcing more products. There is way to much money to be made to be worrying about a few customer returns. Hopefully this blog has helped you understand the return process and make it easier for you to move on from hating at every customer that returns something.