Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Aug 14 2016 22:15:08

Do You Agree Amazon Return Rates Exceed eBay and Etsy?

By: Ina Steiner

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We recently asked you what kind of returns you experience on eBay vs. Amazon vs. Etsy, and we have published the results of the survey in Monday's Newsflash (available now).

Readers reported the lowest rate of returns on their Etsy sales (1.2%), eBay was next at twice that (2.3%), and Amazon was the biggest loser for sellers at 3%.

The responses left by sellers explained some of the reasons. A big factor on Amazon, sellers said, was that they were unable to provide details or correct misinformation on the catalog's product pages. One reader explained:

"Amazon returns significantly higher than eBay. One reason (IMO) is limited information provided in descriptions and feature bullets provided by the listing originator. Very tedious to get discrepancies resolved."

Apparently Amazon isn't too pleased with its return rate either, and news reports have surfaced that it's "firing" customers who return too many goods. In fact, after we launched the survey, our regional cable TV news channel did a report on one such customer.

Both the reporter and the buyer profiled pointed out that Amazon doesn't publish guidelines about returns. From a consumer point of view, that may be frustrating - but human nature being what it is, publishing those guidelines would probably result in an increase in returns!

What was stunning, however, was that the buyer freely admitted she returned items on a weekly basis. (She didn't say where she would shop now that she was shut off from Amazon.)

Let us know if you think online marketplaces could do more to reduce return rates.




Comments (21) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Do You Agree Amazon Return Rates Exceed eBay and Etsy?   Do You Agree Amazon Return Rates Exceed eBay and Etsy?

by: mendocinobooks This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 00:17:36 2016

Amazon has almost all the predatory buyers and extortionists.  Ebay will now work with you on these kind of buyers but Amazon counts them against you. This has produced a whole class of rip off artists on Amazon. They watch for a negative feedback and then order and sometimes call and threaten you or  simply write and say they want money. Amazon will do NOTHING as everything is automated for sellers in the 100k range and down.  Ebay will and ETSY is the best..

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 00:19:41 2016

As an EB seller, I have practically 0 returns.  I'm on AMZ but hardly sell anything.  Maybe one item a month...yes, one a month, because AMZ has so many restrictions on sellers.  I used to sell $200-300 a month on AMZ, now it's down to about $50.  They won't let you sell this item, that item, you need permission to sell this and that.  I'm doing much better on EB.  And compared to AMZ I have fewer returns with EB.
Possibly because EB (and ETSY) give you more leeway for descriptions and store policies.  I can even embed a video of the product in my EB listings, which help a lot.

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by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 00:47:15 2016

Yes, I agree that Ebay has far less returns than Amazon.  Ebay working with sellers is a new one on me though, when did they start doing that? To me, the ebay return is less frequent, but more likely to be a problem and there is no leeway for example free shipping items without ability to get your original shipping back or lose your money (maybe the the restock fee but it won't be enough for the shipping). Usually if they request an ebay return, they will return it because ebay keeps reminding them to.
Amazon at least gives you the option of tailoring the refund amount based on what you actually got back and your costs, depending on the reason. I find less scammers if you only refund up to 30 days, do not take anything out of policy (those are usually scammers) and if they do return a used item, you can take 50% restock. If they do not like it, they can file a claim then, and then someone looks at it but if you followed the rules, you will win the case. The best part is though that most of those requesting an amazon return do not actually return the item because amazon does not remind them to everyday.  Ebay is far worse (seller treatment wise) in my opinion and they have not worked with any common sense in years.
I have only had 1 return on etsy in maybe 3 years.
I agree that amazon has many returns due to the poor way the listings are set up and the ridiculous hurdles to get a listing fixed.

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by: sundance This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 01:18:57 2016

Oh yes, I do agree.  A long time ago, My husband and i sold a lot on Amazon.  Then they changed SK much, we finally stopped.  Ebay is much more complicated now than when I Was on there back in the 90's. Etsy & Zibbet are my main online venues now.  Zibbet's a little slow for sales, but Etsy is consistent and returns are rare for me.

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by: Beth This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 07:38:11 2016

I sell on ebay and amazon - why bother with etsy when all any one does is complain how slow it is?

My returns are about the same as your sample found Ina but.. why are people listing on inadequate descriptions?

It's simple enough to ask SC to have a catalog team member implement your revisions and then you're listing on a good listing?

Come on People Wake up!! this is NOT your mother's internet any more.  

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by: topdog This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 09:38:13 2016

Regarding listings - all of the products that we sell are brand new, current items, so the manufacturer already has a feed for the listing, and we have to use that. However, there are often times when we find being able to add to that listing would be very helpful - some items fit very small, but we cannot advise the buyer about that, and returns reflect that.
The biggest issues are the cost-free side of returns - Econ 101 tells us that the cheaper something is, the more we will get of it. Even worse, the CSR's stock response is "return it". Even when it is simple to address a customer concern, they tell buyers to return the item. (With FBA they get paid for the return, plus they keep the original handling fees.) This is the big complaint that I have with them. Return rates on brand new items are very high - around 10%!  

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by: Louise This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 10:15:15 2016

I sell both Etsy and Amazon Handmade. On AH there is plenty of room for descriptions but still get more returns. Mainly because of Amazon's liberal return policy. One customer wasn't sure about some large frame but said since it is Amazon, she can return them and I cancelled the order. The stupid reasons I get for returns of "my cell phone fell on the floor and my dog ordered it," "mirror is smaller than I thought" even though measurements were not only in title but body of description (don't own a tape measure?). Even when you can charge 20% restocking and not pay return shipping, when free shipping is offered many times sellers lose money and chance items will be damaged being repacked by customer. It is a pain.

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 10:38:23 2016

Amazon has about 5 times the return rate than the other sites.  About 10% say they thought it was something else. Like buying a 35mm film camera (in title)and say they wanted a digital??? Thought amazon buyers could read. The others say defective -not as described. One out of 10 defective.  The rest fine-some not even opened.
Selling on etsy 3 years. Not one return. Had a person try to return. Purchased 3 watches for parts or crafts. She complained they were not working.
Not enough sales on ebay plus everything I sell or list on ebay is stated as For Parts or Repair. Been ripped off in the past - will not let it happen again.

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This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Mon Aug 15 12:01:58 2016

One thing that is unique to Amazon is that there are customers who ask for a refund on EVERYTHING they purchase.

These savvy buyers know if a seller refuses a return, they can file an A-Z Guarantee claim, and keep the item or items and a refund of their money.

I always apologize when an Amazon return is requested, and politely inform the customer to return for a refund. Probably 25-30% of the time, I never hear from them again.

Also, Amazon does not require a buyer to read an item description or details before purchasing. This is an excellent reason (other than the fact it is Amazon policy and just good business) to send a printed invoice with every purchase.

Then buyers can see the description that was placed onto the listing if they blindly bought an item without reading the details first.

(EXAMPLE: What happened?? You sold me a VHS movie, when I ordered a DVD!). Even though I clearly and explicitly described the item as a VHS TAPE, in capital letters. Not to mention it was in the Amazon catalog as a VHS with a photo of a videotape cover. This has happened more than once!

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by: destiny911 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 14:01:57 2016

I believe the rate is higher for FBA sellers than merchant fulfilled on Amazon as well. Buyer doesn't have to answer to anyone. Just clicks a few buttons.

With fba returns the seller isn't even aware of the return until notified the money was given back to the customer, before product is even returned. Once returned to inventory (if ever) it gets tossed back into your inventory. If the buyer claimed it was defective - as they almost always do for the free return shipping - the seller gets stuck with destroying it or having it sent back for inspection.

Once in a while I have seen non opened items make it back into sell-able inventory. I have also seen those same type of items resell and get returned a few times before I as a seller can catch it and take it out to find out the problem with that item.

Amazon has reimbursed me on returns where shipping, warehousing or customer damage was obvious. Not always the full price but usually close to the current market price. Where as eBay returns cost more with the shipping, and very little if any protections from shipping damages, and no protection from customer damage. You just .. eat it.

Overall I find it easier to allow Amazon to handle customers - even with the higher return rate, then dealing with all of the customers direct as you do on eBay. It is very hard for me to not yell at people that do not read descriptions or expect impossible. I rather pay someone at Amazon to deal with it!

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by: donald This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 14:15:05 2016





Well yes but understandably because we sell three times more on Amazon then ebay


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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 16:26:14 2016

Just have another return request. No longer needed????  Guess I am in the rental business.

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 16:30:21 2016

I agree, ban buyers who return to much..lets get back to logic in online venues.

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 18:43:21 2016

Returns are part of online sales, no way around it, but absolutely these venues don't care, it's not their products, and they make it too easy for scams,

We sell on these venues but we self insure, with higher prices and make more profit on each and every item, More risk = More money, so a few bad returns don't really bother us at all.

Our prices on our websites are way cheaper, we simply have less problem sales on our sites, and we actually do the majority of sales on our own websites, so we know it's not an issue with us or our product, it's these greedy careless venues, that are the problem, they hand out a ''license to steal'' to anyone who wants one  

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by: Overthere This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 15 19:12:35 2016

Then you have  all those DSD (DS denomation) people that sell on ebay and use Amazon as their dropshipping source. They return lots of product.
And they don't care as they still have the profit they made,after buying from Amazon sellers.

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

Mon Aug 15 21:14:57 2016

As young people come out of school more stupid than ever, returns go up.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Tue Aug 16 10:44:49 2016

@ The End

I blame the "liberal" teachers and their curriculum.

My kids got out of school and didn't know what temperature water boils and freezes at.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Tue Aug 16 12:51:59 2016

30 years of conservatives working to destroy public schools and now that you don't like the results it's all because of "liberals?"

Maybe, just maybe, the spike in returns correlates to a spike in the "get everyone and everything else OUT OF MY WAY!" rhetoric.  Don't make me read, or think, or compromise, just give me what I want now now now.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Aug 17 11:13:48 2016

@ RKTOYS

I went to school thru the Nixon & Ford years.

I can say for just having a High School education I think I'm pretty smart compared to today's graduates!

Liberal motto: Everyone deserves a FREE ride!

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Thu Aug 18 12:37:24 2016

And the corresponding conservative motto is "rules for thee, not for me," demanding freedom to do whatever they want to whoever they want but running back to government for protection when somebody else does unto them.

Pure hypocrisy with a predictable outcome; a smart person would see that and rethink their position.

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