Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu July 19 2012 10:06:21

Should Marketplace Sellers Be Allowed to Set Own Return Policies?

By: Ina Steiner

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An online seller in the UK sent me an email he received from Amazon UK that states merchants must now offer the same return policy Amazon itself offers buyers. Amazon will automatically update sellers' returns policy on their storefront pages on August 6th, 2012.

"Sometimes I view eBay and Amazon as cyber bullies," he wrote.

eBay doesn't require that its sellers accept returns, but if they do, they must be a minimum of 14 days - sellers are able to select from the minimum of 14 days, to 30 days, 60 days, or "no returns accepted."

And, in order to be eligible for all the benefits of a Top Rated Seller, they must offer a 14-day or longer return policy with a money-back option - even, apparently, for used or rare items. (eBay is also initiating a new way to return items.)

Amazon allows some distinctions on its return policies by category and condition, but requires a 30-day return policy.

Should you be allowed to set your own return policy on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon? What argument would you make to convince them to allow more lenient return policies?




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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Jul 19 11:22:59 2012

My argument is simply "You are a venue.....please let me run my business as I see fit." They micro-manage us to death.

I understand that a few bad apples make it harder for everyone, but why not punish the bad apples instead of all sellers.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bad Hair Day

Thu Jul 19 12:13:01 2012

Sellers should absolutely be able to set their own return policies.If the Buyer does not feel comfortable with the policy then they should not purchase.They are free to purchase from one of the thousands of other Buyers on the site.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu Jul 19 12:23:26 2012

Amazon and eBay being publicly traded companies must deliver positive performance results in order to keep Wall Street analysts happy.

Gross Merchandise Value is an important metric analysts look at to help determine the health of a marketplace. As such GMV is one of the most massaged numbers and returns amount to an opportunity to massage GMV numbers even more.

These marketplaces long ago realized that when a third party is selling goods, every sale helps increase marketplace GMV while returns have no negative impact because they are not the one accepting the returns.

Amazon and eBay micro manage the return policy of small businesses and small independent sellers while telling these sellers the process is for their own good.

That is the smoke and mirrors at play.

The reality is that returned merchandise is quite often relisted by sellers which presents the marketplaces a unique opportunity to count second, third, fourth etc... sales of the same item toward their GMV figures each time the item sells and resells without a downside for any returns.

The additional revenue generated by listing fees and final value fees is all beneficial to the company's bottom line as well.

As a result, these marketplaces are determined to broaden the return options any way they can so they can grow their GMV figures.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Spartacus

Thu Jul 19 12:57:00 2012

The *ONLY* policy eBay sellers need to set is to get off their butts and leave eBay already.

If you're serious about your business, you would have already been planning your exit strategy last year.

It's only going to get worse when eBay forces fufillment services on certain merchants. It will be the ugliest period in eBay history and some of us will be glad we setup shop elsewhere.

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by: lamplady This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 19 15:45:21 2012

This is only one of the reasons I seldom sell on eBay anymore. The site I sell on now has a no questions asked 3 day after receipt return policy. For the type of items I sell, antiques and collectibles, I am comfortable with this policy but not eBay's!

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by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 19 16:57:46 2012

Yes, both amazon and eBay's return policies stink. it seems like a buyer can return an item for any reason , real or imagined.
Returns inevitably cost the seller time and money. In lots of instances sellers are forced to warranty used items longer than the manufacturers warranty on a new item . After a string of bogus returns, I stopped selling on amazon, as amazon shortchanges seller on shipping, so the shipping remainder comes out of my pocket, causing me to lose $ with every return......

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by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jul 19 18:46:09 2012

I say bring it on.
The harder the returns police and race to the bottom policies ebay and Amazon bring in, the faster more sellers might see the light and switch to alt sites or their own website.
Then ebay and amazon will be hollow shells.

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by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 20 00:30:25 2012

It is MY item that is being sold so why on earth should they dictate what MY return policy should be? I agree, let me run MY business.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Jul 20 03:07:46 2012

Well 30 days is better than 45.

While Ebay may still allow you some choices on what you can state as your return policy in your listings.  Make no mistake, even if you say no returns, you do actually have a 45 day return policy.  While we can say what we want in the listings, Ebay sellers have to adhere to Ebay's return policy.  So what Amazon is doing isn't any different.  Expect that Ebay did it first this time.  LOL

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by: Dazzle This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 20 07:43:59 2012

Well if Ebay was capable of actually doing their job and weeding out the bad apples (which they refuse to do) there simply wouldn't be a problem to address. Instead they have opted to cut off the hand that feeds them. Works the same way for buyers.

If I've been there for 13 years - have 100% feedback on 30,000+ transactions - apparently I'm trust worthy. The general public isn't 100% stupid and their capable of figuring it out. So if I have a no returns policy it simply means the buyer actually wants a quality item.

And actually at my B&M I have an All Sales Final sign posted which no one has questioned to date after 6 months.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Jul 20 23:35:04 2012

Both of these arrogant marketplaces have now marched right up to line if not crossed in terms of the IRS's definition of an employee.

Our businesses have been completely taken over by these predator capitalists either by policy or forced compliance.

Complain to the IRS.



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