Sellers say a new policy from Amazon will hit them hard. Amazon is requiring sellers to pay for return shipping when a buyer sends back items in Fashion categories. The move comes as the cost of shipping is skyrocketing and impacts categories with notoriously high return-rates.
Amazon sent an email notifying sellers with the subject line, "Free returns on Fashion items for seller-fulfilled orders." In it, sellers were told that Amazon Fashion customers were not fully satisfied with the current return experience of seller-fulfilled orders.
"To provide the best possible customer experience, you will no longer be able to deduct the return shipping fee for prepaid labels on in policy returns. This will take effect on October 26, 2021, and apply to all Fashion items listed under Apparel, Shoes, Jewelry, or Watches sold in Amazon's online store and shipped to a US address."
The wording of the announcement also rubbed sellers the wrong way. First, Amazon said it already offers free returns and said, "customers expect the same return experience for seller-fulfilled orders." Farther down, it followed up with this line:
"We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that our Return Policies already require Selling Partners to have return policies that are at least as favorable as the Amazon return policies."
"How condescending," a seller commented on the Amazon discussion boards
. " Trying to act like this isn't a big policy change."
"It feels more and more like Amazon owns my business and I am their employee," another seller wrote. "We already offer free shipping in an effort to be competitive, now Amazon has decided for me that I will also cover the cost of returns. I am less than pleased about this new policy."
Some sellers said they would have to raise their prices as a result of the higher costs they'd be forced to absorb but expressed concern over Amazon's policing of seller prices.
"It just keeps getting worse to sell on here as a 3P seller," wrote a seller. "So small businesses like mine are expected to eat the costs for returns at a time when the UPSP raise their rates. We can't raise our prices either, since amazon will flag it for "high price error". It just sucks selling on here anymore."
A seller raised another potential problem with raising prices: "Do not raise it higher than your prices on other websites... that would be against your agreement with Amazon." The seller added, "Remember when FBM saved Amazon for several months in early 2020 because Amazon couldn't ship stuff fast enough?"
One seller had an intriguing idea: have customers pay Amazon a monthly fee for free return shipping on fashion items, and Amazon could cover the shipping cost. "Fashion has the highest return rate out of all the categories, customers buy multiple sizes of the same item and then return what they don't want."
Some sellers feared Amazon would soon be rolling out the policy to additional categories as well.