As if holidays weren’t hectic enough for Amazon sellers, now we have one more thing to worry about – returns and refunds. A study suggests that approximately one-quarter of holiday shoppers buy with the intention of returning the product later. During the four months of Q4, about 10 to 15 percent of the holiday sales are returned and although it might look like a reasonable number, managing it is always an ordeal.
Returns and refunds might not be the best thing that happens during the holiday season; they are unavoidable. The sooner you have a comprehensive return plan in place, the sooner you will have complete peace of mind. In this article, we will discover ways to make returns and refunds a little bit easier this holiday season.
Changes to Amazon return policy in 2020 – a timeline
During the worst months of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the lockdowns were imposed in several countries around the world, Amazon began to extend its return policies for any item purchased in the US, Canada, and EU marketplaces. That was understandable, but fast forward 6 months and Amazon has once again shown its customer-obsessed mentality increasing the return window. In the first week of September, Amazon informed sellers about the policy, saying that, “The Amazon Extended Holiday Return Policy for 2020 requires that most orders delivered between October 1 and December 31 be returnable through January 31, 2021. This policy includes orders that are shipped by you and orders that are shipped by Amazon.”
Because of the longer shipping periods and shipping delays, all the shoppers, including the Prime shoppers, have begun holiday shopping earlier than usual. And the extended return policy gives the shoppers confidence that the gifts they have purchased earlier can be returned till January 31st, 2021. As a seller, you might also be concerned because the products shoppers purchased in October to December are now eligible for returns till January. In our experience, there is nothing to worry about as generous return policies have shown to reduce returns.
Tips for handling post-holiday returns:
#1: Prevention is better than cure
The best medicine for returns is not to let them happen in the first place. Most of the returns happen only because the product did not fit, or it wasn’t like mentioned in the description. So you should check your title, bullet points and description to ensure they are accurate. If anything sounds vague or confusing, figure out a way to make it crystal clear. Don’t forget the product images – check thrice whether the correct item, size and color is showing or not. We would also suggest looking at the reviews once because they clearly state why wasn’t your past shopper satisfied with their purchase and it can be your moment to learn to improve your listing or even the product.
#2: Keep it simple
Think of the last time you had a hard time returning an item. Did you purchase from that seller again? Or you were short-tempered like me and left a negative review instead. According to a study conducted by ecomdash, 60% of the shoppers want a free return policy, 41% of the shoppers like prompt refunds 51% of the shoppers like a hassle-free return policy. Whether your shoppers are checking a return policy before making a purchase or want to find out how to return the product after they have just received it – your return policy must be clear, concise and easy to understand. Consider hiring our Amazon listing optimization service to make sure your listing has every detail that a choosy shopper would want to know. If you make the return process seamless, you shoppers are less likely to leave a negative review. Here are some of the things you should take care of while crafting your return policy:
- Don’t use hard to understand the language
- Avoid using phrases such as “Only if” or “Unless”
- Do not keep any hidden conditions. Your customers have the right to know everything
- Clearly mention if the customer will be refunded or not. Also mention how much duration will they get their money back
- Clearly mention if the customer can exchange the product or not
#3: Consider the extra time and manpower needed
Most of the sellers fail to consider the extra amount of time required to process returns dealing with unsatisfied customers. If you already have a staff that works for it, increase their hours or hire an Amazon seller consultant. If you are a one-man army, consider taking help from software or sign up for FBA. No matter how you want to manage your refunds, it is important to have a system in place for when returns start coming in. You will have to reverse the logistics process, recalculate the inventory in stock and begin the refund process as well. Our advice would be to automate as much as you can – this will save time and reduce the chances of human errors.
#4: Provide a longer return window than the legal minimum
Compare yourself with your competition. Are they offering a longer return period? Then probably you should too. It is always a good idea to keep your return window longer just for the holiday season. Surprisingly, return policies with time limits of more than 30 days can actually reduce returns. This is because of the “endowment effect” – the longer people possess an item, the more they get attached to it. Besides, a longer frame time means there is less urgency in making a decision whether to keep a product or return it.
#5: Encourage customers to exchange instead of return
It is not always the case that the customer hates your product and only wants to return it. There is a possibility that they have ordered the wrong color or size. In this case, as a seller, you should encourage them to return the wrong size and reorder the correct size instead. You are not just saving your sale but also leaving the customer satisfied.
#6: Put your return policy where your customers can see it
Crafting a great and customer friendly isn’t enough; you need to let your customers know about it as well. Your return policy should be in a prime position where your customers can easily see it, probably in your bullet points or description. Make sure you never ever add anytime about returns and customer satisfaction in the title or in your Amazon Enhanced Brand Content, or you are risking your product listing. The best place to showcase your return policy is in the images or the bullets and description.
#7: Have a plan to get rid of returned products
Returns are a long, long process and they don’t end when you simply refund the shoppers. A lesser-known side effect if returns is trash removal. What about the returned inventory that will be sitting in your inventory centers, costing you money? You can either sell all the products at a discounted price or create a removal order and get rid of all the inventory. Creating a removal order is only recommended when the product that is returned is damaged.
Always remember how you deal with returns that have a great impact on your brand. Nurturing a good customer relationship doesn’t just mean behaving nicely with your satisfied and happy customers. Sellers should also build an equally great relation with not-so-happy shoppers as well. Dealing with returns efficiently can also help increase customer trust and create loyal repeat customers. You might be making someone’s holiday and also reducing the number of potential negative reviews. If you want to enjoy your holidays and free yourself from the hassle of returns and refunds, hire our Amazon consultants who will manage everything.