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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.




Comments (46) | Permalink

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Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Aug 9 12:58:12 2018

It's one thing to accept returns, but when you encourage them that is a whole different ballgame.  eBay actually does all but beg sellers to return items.  And when a company actually monetizes returns not only is it a huge conflict of interested it is unethical.  (Alert the media, eBay have no ethics.....we've known this for years.)

I get few returns on other sites that I sell on, but on eBay, it's over the top.  And Kudos to Amazon for addressing the problem.

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by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 13:07:41 2018

Free returns will be responsible for higher prices for the consumer or the downfall of a marketplace.

The customer no longer has any responsibility for their shopping habits and blames the seller for all issues.

At least once a week we get customers who want to return something because they didn't read the product page or item description and expect us to pay for the return out of pocket.

When we tell them no they just open a return request and it's forced.

Unless an item is damaged or SNAD there is no excuse for forcing sellers to pay for return shippimg/

We get ripped off once or twice a week because of this.

It's pathetic  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 13:15:50 2018

ANY of the "marketplaces that are using returns as a way to improve conversion rates to boost sales growth" are doing it SOLELY out the 3p merchants pockets.

Its so bad on places like Amazon and eBay that sellers just up n quit.

eBay is BRAZEN about it and tells sellers to basically "drop dead" and/or "its just too bad since "the industry" says it should be that way.

Of course "the industry is Devil Wenigs' 14 yr old daughter ordering glitter nail polish off Amazon" and thats where eBays "research stops".

If eBay - who should have NOTHING TO DO WITH RETURNS - would have to eat these losses - the policies would be changed in a hurry. But as its easier to push the issue on to its sellers - thats what they do. eBay is the scum of the ecommerce biz (come on DEVIL - come sue me for libel - I DARE YOU) so they know nothing else. (Damn - that lie to the court about being JUST A VENUE must be haunting you now - huh?)

When selling on Amazon - its just as bad. Bots decide cases automatically and sellers lose most of the time.

I heard that the way to deal with SNADS with issues on Amazon is to refund 1 cent then file a "safe-t form". Dont know what it is - never tried it - just saw it on the Amazon forums.

Returns have put a few VERY large companies out of business - and they can and will do the same for small ones .......

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by: Grady This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 13:22:47 2018

It will cost everyone, even if you don't sell or don't return items often.  No such thing as free lunch.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Aug 9 13:29:19 2018

Not even 10 minutes after I posted my post above, checked one of my eBay sites and low and behold, a SNAD.  New in package item, all specifics provided with a robust item description.

Lately it feels like about every 5th item you sell on eBay is returned.  Again, only on eBay.  I might get one return every three months on the other sites that I sell.  I think I've only had one return ever on Etsy and I've been selling there for years.  

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by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 13:32:33 2018

@ Rexford

While your issues may be Ebay ours is Amazon.

Our Ebay sales are 2 to 1 compared to Amazon and Amazon is responsible for 80% of the forced BS returns.

They may be "attempting" to address the problem but it's pointless, they advertise "Free Returns" and push that point just as much as EBAY.

Customers don't care about losing their Amazon accounts, if that happens all they gotta do is go buy a AZ gift card and check out as  guest.

I've had conversations with customers in our stores that brag about using stuff for free and then returning it at no cost, there are websites out there that teach people how to use Amazon to get free stuff and/or offer to get the item for them and get them a refund for a percentage of the refund.

The free returns policies of both Ebay and Amazon have spurred our push to open more B&M stores so we have control over what gets returned and what doesn't.

And contrary to what the media keeps pushing most customers still prefer to be able to walk in to a store and walk back out with instant gratification for their money, we get a small premium for it and control everything.

By this time next year AZ and EB will be supplemental or be used for truly rare things that need global visibility to collectors to maximize profit.

Wal-mart:
Until Wal-mart opens their marketplace to all sellers, redesigns their marketplace and seller center and allows both new and used products they will never pull a decent market share or hurt Amazon.  

Given the direction they are trying to take EBAY, Walmart is the only one who can pull it off at this point, but they are just as much idiots as the rest of them when it comes to understanding eCommerce and what works and what doesn't.

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: Grady This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 13:39:32 2018

Amazon is getting pretty bad to sell on

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: thievesBay This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 13:41:32 2018

Taking returns might be good for conversion, but returns are not good business. But of course the way that eBay wants sellers to accept free returns for "better sales" and "better placement" is outright bribery/fraud. Then they literally encourage buyers to return items with the big blue "Return This Item" button that replaced the Leave Feedback button. Then eBay allows buyers to return something else, a box or rocks, a much more used item in worse condition, or nothing. They side with the buyer in every return even if it's clearly fraudulent and the seller has all the needed proof. They do it so they keep the sale fees. They do not care. eBay is nothing more than a criminal organization.

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: thievesBay This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 13:50:00 2018

Another thing is that most other marketplaces give you some control over returns and you have your own return policy. Not so with eBay. They have eliminated any seller control over returns even when the fact is that eBay sells and ships nothing. On eBay "No Returns" means that the buyer keeps the item and you give them a full refund. What kind of backward scam is that?

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 14:07:16 2018

the (new) issue (with eBay) was highlighted by Marie a few weeks back - and her reply was so spot on.

eBay is now going to levy an extra %40 for "bad sellers", problem is what is counted and who is counting it.

It should be NONE of eBays business who does what. Its not THEIR business - its their PLATFORM.

NO ONE here has an issue with returns - we ALL have issues with FAKE returns - and thats when eBay plays DUMB.

They know sellers suck, they know how USPS works, they know EVERYTHING ... except what you sent vs what you got back. THAT is why its all fraud.

I have Amazon returns under control, that leaves eBay as the problem child (as usual).

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: thievesBay This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 14:24:58 2018

Yep encourage more returns and then further punish those sellers with even more fees on top of what they already pay. There's nothing they do anymore that isn't some scheme to take more money from sellers.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 15:12:14 2018

"A Wall Street Journal article in February said post-retail sales of returned and overstocked merchandise rose to $550 billion"

twice magazine reports ...... and thats only electronics!

Everyone wants happy buyers - but the solution isnt always RETURNS

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by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 15:33:58 2018

Allowing a re-stocking fee is a good but not perfect solution.
sadly, ebay has a disconnect between it's success and that of it's sellers, so that's taboo.
I firmly believe that their fall update, the growing unfettered return volume, and the "new" payment processor will all bubble up and be reflected in their 3rd quarter results.
Maybe then Elon Musk will see the wisdom of building an anti-ebay site instead of cars.

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by: Ebay Little Shop of Horrors This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 15:38:07 2018

It's temporary.

Amazon, Ebay, Etsy like fireflies, will fade away. That doesn't help us much now. I know. But they started this buyer-return-and buy-another culture.

Japan isn't so tacky. They make a mistake and they give it away. I'm sure some European countries aren't so trashy, either.

I finally fell in line. I feel a bit trashy about it, myself. I took down everything nice, and now I'm listing items under ten dollars. If they want to yell ''SNAD'', they can keep it and I'll refund.

That's why these mega sellers report they have so few returns; thier stuff isn't worth returning.

Ebay set this up. What,  I wonder, is their idea of a flea market? My Chanel, Balenciaga, my good stuff...those aren't flea market items but ebay made sure we couldn't sell them on ebay.


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by: extremetm This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 16:19:43 2018

We've created a zombie society of irresponsible babies who take no ownership of their decisions and have no integrity beyond how much they can get and how fast they can get it.

As long as the buyer is made whole no matter what the consequences, that's all that matters. Everyone left in their wake is just collateral damage.

At some point the well is going to run dry for individual sellers and these buyers will be left with nothing but corporate monopolies who will tell them what to buy and when.

On the upside of that, ebay will be in the gutter where it belongs.

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 16:48:20 2018

ebay +0.31

Open 33.86 - close 34.15   (hes KILLING it I tell you!)

THAT will show you all !

LMAO

Dont ANYONE tell the DEVIL how to run an ecommerce co !

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 19:33:42 2018

Wierd 40 cent drop after hours today (8/9)...
What's in the wind???

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: thievesBay This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 20:16:28 2018

lol the whole gain from today wiped out after hours. That only happens when the stock is expected to drop again. Maybe some kind of eBay news coming tomorrow? Maybe the Devil is getting fired or resigning. We can only hope...

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: Grady This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 21:18:55 2018

Maybe Vanguard or Pierre will wake up and dump 6 trillion shares

Perminate Link for Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce   Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 9 21:32:33 2018

Somebody bought 1M shares at close on Friday.
ebay from Vanguard?

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