|Sun Jan 6 2013 21:46:49|
eBay and Amazon Sellers, Are You Dealing with Returns?
By: Ina Steiner
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day - all the major holiday shopping days are behind us. And no sooner had the calendar page flipped to December 26th, and it seemed everyone was in a hurry to talk about returning unwanted presents, from marketplaces to shipping carriers.
Returns are the boomerang of holiday shopping for online sellers, and of course, shipping carriers benefit a second time from online purchases that are returned.
The USPS did its part to encourage returns by running an ad riffing on the ugly holiday sweaters theme: "When the gift-giving is over, let the gift-returning begin! This new TV commercial from the Postal Service is reminding people that when that holiday gift doesn't fit, doesn't work or is a duplicate - like the beautiful sweater featured in the spot - USPS offers stress-free returns. The commercial highlights the ease and convenience of returning packages using Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes, online postage and payment, and free Package Pickup."
Amazon embraced returns, posting an ad on its home page explaining how easy it was to return unwanted purchases. Amazon.com has an extended return policyfor the holidays - items shipped by Amazon.com between November 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, may be returned until January 31, 2013, for a full refund.
Amazon tells customers, "While most sellers offer a returns policy equivalent to Amazon.com's, some seller returns policies may vary," a message that makes it sound as though merchants who don't comply are churlish.
Amazon also promoted the idea of reselling unwanted presents - it posted on its Facebook, "Did you upgrade any gadgets this year? You can sell your extra stuff on Amazon. http://amzn.to/UpsXD3."
eBay also encouraged users to resell unwanted presents - it said it expects $815 million in resold gifts this post-holiday season and said, "whether it's ugly sweaters or duplicate electronics, new owners are waiting to scoop up some post-Christmas loot."
eBay pressures sellers to accept returns, and it has a new managed returns feature. If you've tried it, let us know how you made out, especially during and post holidays.
The silver lining in the unwanted-gift cloud is the buying opportunities it presents merchants. Sites such as Liquidation.com take returns off the hands of retailers, and then count on discounters and online retailers to purchase them for resale. The Today Show featured Liquidation.com in a story in which it said $63 billion worth of holiday gifts would be returned.
FedEx surveyed 1,000 people about returns in December and found that clothing is the most often-returned gift (45 percent), followed by electronics/gadgets and toys (both 8 percent).
It also found that most gift-recipients return unwanted items shortly after the holidays. "Thirty-five percent will have all gifts returned before New Year's, while another 55 percent say the return process will be done before the end of January." The FedEx Holiday Returns Survey also found that more than two-fifths of online shoppers (43 percent) reported being more likely to purchase something online when free return shipping was available. A practice it's happy to encourage, since it gets the shipping fees coming and going.
Feel free to share your "worst return" stories and how this holiday season compares to previous years.