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Thu Aug 9 2018 11:29:01

Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

By: Ina Steiner

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Walmart may leverage its physical stores to facilitate returns of items sold by third-party marketplace sellers, according to CNBC, which could help it compete against Amazon.

Marketplaces are growing obsessed with returns as a way to improve conversion rates to boost sales growth. But that has the potential to harm sellers of low-margin goods, fragile items, or unique inventory such as antiques and collectibles.

Etsy has indicated it will begin tackling the issue of returns on its marketplace, and it's hard to see how sellers won't be challenged as a result, if eBay sellers' experiences are any indication. 

It's not that most sellers don't want to ensure buyers are satisfied with their purchases, but there's a culture today in which shoppers feel it's okay to use items and then return them for full price when no longer wanted. And online sellers have seen it all - many simply want marketplaces to curb egregious behavior by buyers.

CNBC noted that Amazon has begun banning shoppers it believes return too many items.

It published the letter Walmart sent to its 3P sellers about the Marketplace Returns Program it will launch in the fall. The retailer told merchants it will make it easier to manage returns, and importantly:

"As a seller, you will continue to be able to configure the return policy for every item you sell, including the settings for restocking fees, shipping carriers, return windows and shipping fees.

"You will also have the option to use our Returns Shipping Service, which offers special discounted shipping rates."

It didn't provide details about how it would use its 4,700 stores in the US "to make marketplace returns even easier." While that sounds like a possible win for sellers, it also has the potential to be a nightmare. 

How well do you think Walmart clerks can handle returned goods - from making a determination about the validity of a return, to storing returned goods on behalf of merchants, and returning the goods to merchants?

Sellers have to deal with those issues when their FBA items are returned to Amazon fulfillment centers - and it remains to be seen if Walmart stores can handle these challenges any better.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Thu Aug 9 23:57:44 2018

eBay usually does their buy backs in quantities of a million shares and they supposedly did a purchase just a while ago so that was probably them. They needed to get more stock in house so they execs could exercise their options.

From what I have read a lot of holdings from hedge/mutual funds have been selling off their positions in the last few weeks but doing it in a controlled fashion so as to not cause any panic.

expect the execs to exercise their options soon if they have not started doing so already. The crap will soon start to hit the fan.

eBay = Dead Man Walking

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by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 00:13:08 2018

I have always accepted returns as an important aspect of eCommerce. I do have a problem with abuse though and think it is pretty messed up that abuse is welcome by these venues simply because it is on our dime.

I don't believe buyer expectations are that it is necessary to use, damage, or otherwise make unsalable items they purchased as a caveat of shopping on a particular site. Those expectations are being site by the venues themselves.

If a buyer hates an item. Sure send it back no problem. No need for after sale neon signs begging buyers to return items. No need to plant the seed. If a buyer wants to make a return they WILL tell you.

Now things are going to far when companies like ebay are punishing sellers simply for doing the right thing and having a return policy. Even after the epic failure that was return defects they bring them back WITHOUT a dispute process when MOST returns are buyers remorse!?

I have bought so many thousands of items on ebay and can count on 1 hand the number of items that actually came "not as pictured or described". I have returned quite a few because I was not happy with the product quality......That had nothing to do with the seller. They didn't make an inferior product.

When my buyer buys an item they don't like opens a SNAD return with friendly buyers remorse comments it should NOT be treated the same as when I bought the New In box rotary tool that looked like it had been in use on a construction site for a year......And yet these situations are treated equally with no dispute process for comments that can easily be read even if assuming they are factual.

IF BUYERS REALLY EXPECTED THIS CRAP THEN WHY IS EBAY SEEING FLATLINE GROWTH (less the few extra million they took in solely from fee increases)........?

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by: gmrichhicks This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 00:31:39 2018

I have already taken too many hits/losses because of ebay's new policies.  

The last one about sent me through the roof when a KNOW SCAMMER from many years back used a different alias won my auction.  The shipping address was documented in their own damn forum.    I tried to hold my temper while speaking to ebay, but she insisted that I either cancel, or file unpaid claim.  Scammer didn't have time to discover he won, btw.  In any EFFING EVENT I would get a strike.

Let's just hope that doesn't happen.  I have a 100! satisfaction rate for 606 sales.  (Actually would be quadruple that if buyers cared to leave feedback)

I will pull every damn thing that I am selling and completely abandon ebay.  I have been there for at least 15 years.

If their head honcho and sycophants can't get it through their heads, then fine.  Watch their damn stock values plummet to the Earth.  

I am done with effing incompetence.

Rant over.

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by: rover This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 02:58:29 2018

Here in the EU we have consumer laws which actually encourage buyers to purchase, use and return! These laws are supposed to ''give buyers confidence'' in ecommerce and they sure do. They give buyers confidence to cheat and steal from sellers of all sizes by purchasing anything they need, using it for their special event (holiday, party, etc) and then making a flimsy excuse to return it.

I caught out one bright spark who wanted to return an item because the ''colour was not as described'' and she could not use it for her party outfit. Said buyer had posted a link on her FB page to her wearing it!!

Well she got an email from our ''legal department'' (picture attached) saying we were working with XYZ police force and their ''retail crime unit'' on a pilot project to combat returns fraud. If she insisted on returning the item then the evidence would be forwarded to the police for further investigation/action.

We emphasized Having a criminal  conviction for fraud could make it very difficult for her in the future to obtain insurance, a mortgage or finance, etc.

As you can imagine we heard no more from that particular petty crim.

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by: InspirationPlus This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 07:30:16 2018

@rover Brilliant!

People have little conscience anymore about purchasing a NWT clothing item, wearing it for an event and then return it, without tags and possibly stained or smelling of perspiration or perfume. The '30-day free return' policy certainly is a boon to those wanting a free party outfit. The item is useless to the seller at that point.  

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by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 07:48:56 2018

I had a buyer request a return after doing the same thing on amazon wearing it and taking a photo of herself in it and posting it on the review of it on amazon. I did not take it back - long time ago when you could do that.

However, I have had much better luck on getting my money back from amazon, at least they don't feel it necessary to insult me and tell me how little I mean to them every time they help me. Saf-T-claims work pretty good and amazon funds it so as far as I am concerned they pay enough of them then they can block that buyer if they want to. You have to provide the proof but fortunately most of these criminals make it pretty easy.

As far as Walmart, I wouldn't trust their customer service with a paperclip much less anything I sell. I can imagine the return being thrown in a shopping cart and sitting there forever while I am out both my money and my item.
Now, if they want the item, want to sell it where ever it ends up and I don't have to be out any money that would be fine.  And while that email yesterday makes it sound great, the one last week where they told sellers that they would just take money out of your account for no good reason if the tracking somehow did not register as delivered and without any real explanation of if this requires a buyer complaint or any specifics is not the way to make sellers feel comfortable with walmart. The seller customer service is still the worst of anywhere and I would not recommend selling there to anyone at this time due to these and a million other issues with the site. Although I agree that if they would change just a few dumb policies and make it easier to sell there, they could compete in a huge way. They made a change this week that was good for sales so we will see.

The prices of the return shipping, at least for most of my products, are outrageous that are charged by amazon and that should be illegal because the buyer has no choice but to pay these inflated prices to return an item.
Sometimes they just don't need it anymore and this could just be refused and returned at no extra expense to either of us but amazon actually allows the buyer to not receive the sellers emails letting them know how to save money.  At least we can still communicate with the buyer on ebay so far.

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This user has validated their user name. by: FidoMaster
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Fri Aug 10 08:02:46 2018

Ebay could make a small change to allow sellers to determine the risk they are comfortable assuming account-wide, or on a per-item basis. eBay already has the UI built with the percentage slider and promoted listings interface.

Ebay needs to allow sellers to screen buyers by return utilization, and ability to exclude buyers with returns above X % returns threshold.

This will allow sellers needed capability to avoid buyers that exceed the returns risk the seller’s business model is comfortable doing business with.  

By weeding out returns abusive buyer accounts, sellers can provide better returns options and more sellers will drink the kool-aid and adopt eBay's "retail standard" free returns.

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by: Carol Is Here This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 09:51:26 2018

shut1968, your post was very informative.

While people hate Ebay, AMAZON is the real problem because it is an expression of Wall Street putting together a monopoly and wiping out small and medium business.

Also having more and more power over politicians to force the public to support them through corporate welfare, and change laws to help Amazon and wipe out any competition.

Tycoons love it when the little guys put money in their pockets through force.

Amazon has NEVER made money on retail. NEVER. They make money through cloud services.

They have been willing to lose money because the tycoons who want to build a massive monopoly have needed to build it up and expand its reach, and that takes time.

They don't like to lose so much for so long though, so they have been shifting to making SELLERS lose the money.

Amazon either steals themselves, or lets people steal from sellers, so that a few tycoons can have themselves a very dangerous monopoly.

They even have Amazon owning media, the most dangerous of all, because it protects Amazon from exposure and promotes it to the sheep buyers.

Everyone should be driving at politicians to break up this monopoly. I hope it is not too late.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 09:56:33 2018

I read somewhere that ecommerce returns were as high as 30%.  That's pretty darn high.  These etailers have to control this insane amount of returns.  AMZ is doing the "rent for 7 days" and then buy for clothing.  Which makes sense, but I'd like to see what it does after a year.
If I return something after 60-90 days I'm given a store credit and maybe etailers should consider something like that.

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by: Carol Is Here This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 10:02:15 2018

Rexford, you are right, Ebay IS telling buyers to return all the time. That's the principal message buyers hear from Ebay.

Ebay is encouraging people to buy and lie- then use it, swap out parts, replace it with a broken item or send back a brick.

Wenig and his cronies know this is happening. They want it to. It's their business plan.

They want buyers in any form and money so they can plunder more, and if it takes letting buyers steal from sellers- that's fine to them!

Wenig and cronies are making money from crime lol.

This is all intentional. Wenig knows just what he is doing.  He is a liar and a fraud. A thief too.Thieves know how to rig the system and prey on others. He's preying on sellers.  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 10:03:40 2018

It may only "be me" - so Id love to see what other sellers here have experienced ....

Most of my returns come from "newbie buyers" aka ones with only a very few feebacks (I love the ZERO feedback buyers).

MAYBE if eBay put a limit on returns or put limit(s) on who can return what - then MAYBE id feel better about putting stuff on eBay and feel that eBay remotely cares about my pocket like they do their own.

Wont happen so I need not worry about it all - but Im curious just the same.

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by: Carol Is Here This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 10:03:51 2018

pace, how do you handle Amazon returns?

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by: Carol Is Here This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 10:11:17 2018

Retailers are tightening up rules on returns.

I have an example- the Gap/Old Navy conglomerate.

You have a limited time to return (about 45 days), items CANNOT be worn or have any issues at all, they must retain all tags still on clothing, and be in original bags. You must have original receipt.

You are not charged for a return if you bring it to a store (because it is cheaper for them to handle.) If you use their label and send it back, however, you have a return fee deducted from your refund.

If you order from Gap Factory or one of their other deep discounters, however, it is even tighter. Because they have a smaller profit on each item, they REQUIRE a fee for all returns, even to a store.

Wenig is lying when he makes the claims he does about industry return standards.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 10:35:33 2018

Carol - you are too honest of a women to do what I do :)

I "punish" Amazon by making THEM eat the defective item.

Since they give buyers carte blanch to return anything at anytime - I blame them -especially when %99 of the time - the item ISNT what I sent out (I only sell NEW items).

I buy one from Amazon (from them ONLY - never a 3p seller) and then return the bad one I got, to them.

Its not nice, its probably not even %100 ethical - but its not my fault - so Im not gonna eat the loss.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 10:58:05 2018

@pace.  I sell clothing at 4 maybe 5 sites and have close to 0% returns.  I recently had a pair of jeans returned, but other than that, none.  I always describe in detail by measurement.    The only returns I've had were with appliances and electronics.  It's hard to test those items.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 11:14:21 2018

I sell only NIB items - so I expect to get back the same thing - just not working.

Not missing parts
not last yrs model
not a brick
not newspaper
not another brand

I have homes for the items I sell - they go back to the distributors that they came from.

TRUE defectives arent an issue here for anyone (I dont think).

Its the people who take advantage - that ruin it for everyone.

BTW - I was fine with offering 14 days on returns - it was when eBay upped the game to "30 days or else" - thats when I went to no returns.

I cant sell things for people to use on vacation or for a party etc.

If you cant figure out in 14 days whether or not the item works - theres "something wrong with YOU".

The items I sell are not complicated machines (ie no pcs or tech equipment - its basically watches and headphones) so either the watches tell time or they dont, the headphones produce music or they dont.

Due dilligence aka "I dont like the color etc" is (should be) on the buyer.

Go to Macys (watch) or Best Buy (headphones) and see them there - THEN come to me. Its not complicated.

For me - its eBays wise @$$ attitude about "the crazy returns" ... when you claim I sent you something the maker doesnt produce.......etc

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by: nuggets This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 12:45:33 2018

OMG are my returns through the roof. Not one because we screwed up. We have tens of thousands of transactions and rarely had returns in years and years. All of the sudden, they are quadrupled. People making claims that its not as described when it is, ebay would have backed us up in the past, and other times just saying, "I thought I needed it but dont". Ebay is so stupid, we are out of there.

People are buying who shouldnt be becasue what do they have to lose, people are not asking questions. All this is doing is costing us money, making ebay money on shipping labels and having us block every other customer who sounds weird in their message to us and everyone who returns something.

This is not normal, nor how ecommerce should be. Were a store and our goal is still not to push people to buy stuff they dont need. Ebay is a psychopath.

Bringing people to the site who dont have the spare funds only costs us money as they buy stuff they shouldnt and return it when they realize. Many people who havent organically come to ebay with a purpose apparently dont know how to behave either.

I hate this company after doing a huge amount of business there and theyre either clueless how this short term game is going to end or the purpose is to inflate their metrics to make the company appear more valuable to sell and suck more money out of sellers who have been there in some cases since the beginning.

Theyre going to end up being boycotted by their sellers, who happen to be some of their biggest buyers.

Jesus, does this company suck!

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by: nuggets This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 18:19:47 2018

@Chicago48

"If I return something after 60-90 days I'm given a store credit and maybe etailers should consider something like that. "

If someone returns something after that long, I definitely dont want to deal with them again with a credit. There has to be a point where you own the item and its your duty to sell it on if you no longer want it.

I think buyers have a responsibility to be decent customers. Ive been begged to be unblocked and in 95% of the cases I wont do it. Some clearly buy through other ID's but its less easy to start chaos when they skirted a block.

I had one blocked buyer send a nice letter and pretty much beg. This happens when you dont sell the same thing everyone else does. Nowhere to get it from but the seller you treated like garbage.

Ive never denied a return unless it was silly old and when we had a clear return policy and could see people found one cheaper. Its still easy to see the feedback numbers.

This can be different when youre selling highly competitive items but when youre a rarity dealer you can be the soup nazi. No soup for you!

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 10 18:28:06 2018

In my 20 years on ebay I NEVER had a problem with returns - still don't have them on my own website. Ebya turned returns into a problem.

Ebay - quit it

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by: Carol Is Here This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 11 13:19:10 2018

Chicago, I understand what you are talking about, and there were a lot of sellers on Ebay who were deceptive in their descriptions, and had other issues like that.

A lot of them got knocked off with the stars thing, and other policy changes.

What is happening now is different. Just when Ebay started blasting buyers to return RETURN, and started the free returns program, then suddenly returns escalated even for sellers who had had few returns over a decade!

Scammer buyers using returns for bad reasons increased to a large degree.

There is an Ebay cheerleader who has social media pages and Youtube channels (Kathy Terrill) who follows Ebay best practices completely. Don't get me wrong- I like Kathy. But she sometimes glosses over real problems that Ebay is causing for sellers.

Even she got hit with a return scam- a buyer had her ship a new with tags clothing item overnight express (expensive!), the buyer wore it, then falsely claimed not as described, and returned a worn item with tags removed. They wanted it for an event, and Ebay encouraged them to borrow and return at no expense to them. But Kathy lost money. Postage both ways, and an item with reduced value.

Many Ebay sellers already sell at deep discount. Ebay encourages low pricing. But sellers can't take these return hits, especially when sales are so terrible thanks to Ebay's mismanagement, lack of advertising and marketing, and other issues.

There was a sudden change when Ebay started promoting returns.

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