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Mon Oct 11 2021 21:08:47

Amazon Forces Sellers to Foot the Bill for Fashion Returns

By: Ina Steiner

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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.

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by: COVID-19 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 11 22:00:13 2021

Eh heh heh heh heh. Let's see eBay follow Big Bro's footsteps now.

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by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 12 00:30:02 2021

Um.....this was required in other categories years ago.

Pretty pissed that clothing sellers have been getting off scott-free on this still. Join the club.

Amazon's return policies are 100x worse than Ebay's could ever be for the seller.  

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 12 11:43:43 2021

“… Some sellers said they would have to raise their prices as a result of the higher costs they'd be forced to absorb..”

Back in the ‘day’, which was not so many days ago, buying on-line had the built-in appeal of being much cheaper than buying at a B&M.  Items otherwise competing could be offered ‘at discount’ because the seller had a much smaller CODB overhead than the store, which had to cover storage, extra labor, physical infrastructure, and a liberally forgiving, no questions ‘returns’ policy.  

Fact is, buyers too, were willing to expect ‘less’ (instant gratification) because they were paying less (relatively), receiving more (convenience factor), and thus willing to assume some of the ‘risk’ inherent to ‘hands free’ buying as conditions for that discount.  Within reason - SNAD and (actual) INR of course, was as it should be no less inexcusable.  

Now that buyers have been given the virtual keys to the ‘store’, that margin ‘difference’ upon which to offer such ‘savings’ has evaporated.  In fact, with every venue ‘enhancement’, it’s becoming increasingly more likely it will cost more to sell a given item online than it would be from a store window.  Not because the seller is making it more expensive, but because the venue is.

So unless a seller has is willing to cut their already stressed margin, in the end, venue policy changes that increase CODB will increase cost to the buyer.  Up to the point where the venue causing this need then also dictates the ‘ceiling’, which the buyer now reasonably expects ‘more’ from, due to those increases.

It’s a death spiral.  Masked by an intentional lack of concern for who pays the bills, as long as the wolves on the street get their meat.  And that’s how to turn a bull market into a bull(redacted) market.


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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Tue Oct 12 18:57:38 2021

Exactly why I stopped selling online.  The venues just keep grabbing more control and making it more expensive to do business.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Oct 13 08:00:30 2021

Let the wear and returns begin.  Note to self:  Do not list clothing items on Amazon.

I can just see these entitled buyers ordering 5+ garments and essentially using Amazon as a dressing room.  Then returning them all.

If you raise your prices to make up the difference the bots will take you down.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 14 07:14:30 2021

I try as much as possible to "ship to store" that bypasses the shipping fees.  For example Target and Home Depot have "ship to store" or "pickup in store".  That's the only way to bypass ecommerce "shipping" fees.  And it's easy to return.  I sell fashion on AMZ and will have to do one of several things:  1) buy cheaper; 2) raise prices to compete against the lowest price; or 3) stop selling on AMZ.
And Snapped is right:  The consumer is being hit hard more and more with these "fees" whether shipping, surcharges, taxes, storage fees, etc.  And IMO we will see a slow down in ecommerce sales -- except on Facebook Mktplace which seems to be enjoying fame.

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by: Stone Cutter This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 14 21:57:56 2021

What a bummer. I expect this type of policy change will soon come around for Etsy, too. As an artisan jeweler, I'm close to being done with online selling because it's no longer the joy it use to be.

Amazons' cash cow is now it's Cloud Division....profit margins for their retail division continue to shrink as more online competition unfolds.

I just listened to a retail analyst on CNBC this week...It's becoming common place for buyers to purchase multiple items to then return the items they don't want. The example I heard was for Nike, who has no problems with "returns" while still making profits when selling in volume..

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 15 17:40:40 2021

CNBC this week...It's becoming common place for buyers to purchase multiple items to then return the items they don't want. The example I heard was for Nike, who has no problems with "returns" while still making profits when selling in volume
^^
That's why I like Merc and Posh.  Buyer has 3 days to return for a refund; or 7 days to return for a refund.  And it has to be "not as described" and not "I changed my mind".  And Posh doesn't accept just any excuse for a return.  Posh is  BAAAD.



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