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Sun Jan 2 2022 15:44:39

Alarming Return Policy that Could Hurt Small Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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This year, more major retailers are implementing a "just keep it" return policy that could be detrimental to small sellers. Narvar provided data that suggests the practice among large retailers and marketplaces grew in 2021, exacerbated by supply chain issues and consumer behavior.

A majority of shoppers buy items knowing they will return it, according to the company, a practice it calls "bracketing." Narvar's 5th annual State of Returns report revealed that 60% of shoppers are buying multiple items at the same time with the intent to return some of them mainly because they cannot try products in store or are unfamiliar with the brand, the company said. 

Using its "Consumer Tell All" research, Narvar found that 60% of the items they were allowed to keep instead of return were priced under $20. But nearly 20% were products priced over $50. Amazon, Walmart, Target, Wayfair, Chewy, Wish, Kohl's, and Shein, were the most common retailers cited.

"What this means," Narvar said: "Popular retailers have a habit of letting loyal customers keep products instead of returning them, especially if the price of the original purchase is less than what it would cost to process the return. With the global supply chain shortage, one can predict that low-priced items might be harder to come by online due to a lack of inventory and customers being allowed to keep items even if they would've returned them."

A TV news program in the Boston area picked up the story about the growing "just keep it" returns trend, and we were dismayed to hear the co-anchor say it made her want to try it just to see if she could get an item for free. 

As more shoppers hear of such policies, it could increase the amount of returns online sellers receive, as people try to get "free" items.

Large retailers were responsible for the myth of "free shipping" and "free returns," which not only pressured smaller retailers to offer such policies, but also resulted in in marketplaces pressuring third-party sellers to offer overly generous policies, calling them "retail standard."

Large retailers get volume discounts from shipping carriers, and they have sophisticated programs that help them decide when to offer a "just keep it" policy to a shopper. But shoppers don't necessarily differentiate between large retailers and small sellers when making returns.

Have you ever encountered a "just keep it" return as a buyer? And have you ever extended this offer to buyers of your own?



Comments (16) | Permalink

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by: turquoisetulips This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 2 22:02:17 2022

I made a purchase on Mercari in December 2021 of a multiple quantity set (all of the same item) for under $15 + shipping. The seller did not send the quantity they had disclosed in the listing, so I requested a return. When I clicked the submit button for the return, I instantaneously got a message back that said I would be refunded and could keep the items (the refund did hit my account within a few days). As an online seller on numerous sites, quite frankly I was shocked and am considering deactivating my items on Mercari.

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by: ByeByeEbay This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 3 00:11:37 2022

Some 3rd party sellers, who use warehousing by the "online site" will take the returns and I have seen if it sells for up to 200 it will be "disposed of"  So you sell an item with no margin, you are forced to take returns but you don't get the merchandise back.  I have never had my items stored in warehouses provided by Amazon or others.  Too many things can go wrong for a seller, they change the terms, decide to dispose of "old" merchandise, they will ship another vendors merchandise that appears to be the same if the warehouse is closer.  I do not carry a large inventory and like that I can control what I sell and where.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 3 04:09:53 2022

@Turquoise:  I believe the seller gets to keep the  revenue if buyer asks for a refund and are told to keep it.  And, remember Mercari has a 3 day window to ask for a return, so if you ask for the return outside of that window you don't get it.  

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by: Vintagecat This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 3 08:15:10 2022

Ugh. Another unfortunate iteration of retail that will come back to haunt all of us. I can't retire fast enough.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Jan 3 12:45:07 2022

MY Business, MY Policies.

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This user has validated their user name. by: gecko

Mon Jan 3 13:28:25 2022

I bought a toy online that was on sale at Target.  When it arrived, I realized it was too young for the intended recipient so I wanted to return it.  Started the return process online and was shocked to be told JUST KEEP IT.  What?  They told me to throw it away, donate it or keep it.  Crazy!

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by: terry55 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 3 16:06:31 2022

Biggest problem is shipping is getting so high, so your out the shipping and return shipping. I have a no return policy, even thou ebay say's I do but does cut down on the "check it out" buyers. If it gets broken, lost or doesn't work then I'll decide depending on the item if I want it back or not. I do sell items that are worth as much selling parts then as a whole

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by: Denny This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 3 17:19:14 2022

I put buyer is responsible for return shipping in my return policy and would never let anyone keep something not paid for even if it was burnt up and run over by a train. These large compainies will rip off other buyers to pay for the thiefs. DON'T do it Sellers make them return items or you will be sorry along with the sellers that are grooming buyers againist us all.  

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by: christy s This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 3 18:09:37 2022

I agree with Denny. Offer refund but make them return it.  If they don't, it's on them.. the way it should be.  What a crazy world we live in.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Jan 3 18:17:17 2022

Why, if there are supply chain issues, would you have the buyer keep the item and refund the money? I imagine there is another buyer out there who would want it based on lack of merchandise.  

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by: postbuster This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 4 07:06:55 2022

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeering

 
Please check all that apply.

We all know the deck is heavily stacked against us.

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by: BurglePork This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 4 22:34:51 2022

The reason this happens is that companies pay so little for their merchandise that it is cheaper to let the customer keep it than to process the return. Think about that - how little are they paying if return shipping and receiving would cost the retailer more than the item did?

Moreover, most returns, no matter what type of item, are not returned to inventory to be resold - instead, they are liquidated or destroyed. You'd think selling them again would be smarter but it's hard to be certain they're truly unopened and unused, and paying an employee to check is costly, so many companies decided that liquidation is more profitable. (This is especially true of clothing. Clothing returns often need to be rebuttoned, steamed, refolded, etc to be in sellable condition. Way too much work. And a lot comes back damaged - missing a button, with makeup/deodorant smudges, etc.)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jan 5 07:02:41 2022

Insanity

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This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Wed Jan 5 20:06:07 2022

I find it nauseating that there are so many returns that end up destroyed. There has to be a better way to be a good steward of the earth and the impoverished.  

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 7 07:54:28 2022

Free shipping. Free returns.  Of COURSE that’s attractive. Of COURSE it multiples transactions.

Brings in buyers.  But what kind?  They spend $500, return $400 on spec, and it costs the business all their profit in loss/restocking with any waste a tax deduction.

That’s not logical.  Yet ‘everybody’ is doing it.  Why?  Boast worthy ‘innovation’ and ‘growth’.  Patooey.  

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by: railady This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 7 20:38:40 2022

This sounds like the ugly next chapter of "How to "RENT" an Evening Gown for a Day" ...... Watched an episode of Judge Judy today; Amazon seller sold buyer a woofer; buyer didn't want it/wanted to return it but didn't, Seller got neither her money back nor the woofer (Judge Judy ordered he must return it). Personally, a friend listed a book on Amazon and seller complained; Amz gave him a refund and never made him return my friend's book.



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