Amazon Began Testing ‘Frequently Returned’ Products
Amazon apparently is testing a new program that displays a warning about items that have a high return rate, according to a story published by The Information.
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The marketplace’s new badge reads, “Frequently returned item: Check the product details and customer reviews to learn more about this item,” suggesting customers should double-check the listings before making a purchase.
What is interesting is that this new badge is only available to some sellers. We checked listings The Information reported on, and we also found this language on our listings. It required us to be logged into our account.
This suggests this is a very new program being tested by a few sellers, and it may either be rolling out the program slowly or it may completely die at some point. The items listed all appear to be listings from third-party sellers using Amazon to fulfill their products.
“We’re currently showing return rate information on some product detail pages to help our customers make more informed purchase decisions,” Amazon spokesperson Betsy Harden confirmed to The Information this week.
However, the company did not provide much additional information on the program and how long it may try this method.
Currently, most items sold on Amazon have a return policy allowing buyers to return new or mostly unused items within 30 days. This new policy seems to provide an additional nudge to buyers to confirm the item is exactly as described so that buyers can make the appropriate decision.
Returns Are a Big Problem — Including Amazon
As returns have become a big problem for retailers, Amazon seems to be trying a new way to reduce returns by informing customers first.
In December, the National Retail Foundation (NRF) reported that online return rates may rise to nearly 18 percent in 2021 during the peak season, reaching nearly $171 billion.
“The holidays typically include a spike in retail activity, but higher return rates can also impact profitability,” said Steve Prebble, CEO of Appriss Retail.
“Retailers must look for ways to individualize the returns process through data-driven insights. This will minimize the risk of accepting fraudulent returns while enhancing the customer experience for loyal shoppers.”
For now, we can only assume this is a test. But considering the high number of returns across all retail sales channels, this might be the first sign Amazon could be looking to reduce its return rates.
It’s a trend we reported on earlier this year from a study published by the Loop Returns.
In this study, the survey found customers may be willing to pay for returns on products, with 70% of shoppers willing to pay for more convenient, premium return experiences.
While the study didn’t rule out returns, it indicated customers may be willing to pay for returns to gain a better return experience.
And that could be a big win for those who have long wondered for how long these liberal return policies can stay in place without hurting the online business model. It appears that Amazon might be just trying to find that out too.
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Richard is co-founder of eSeller365. He has over 17 years of experience on eBay which includes tens of thousands of sales to buyers in over 100 countries and even has experience with eBay’s VeRO program enforcing intellectual property rights for a former employer. And for about two years Richard sold products on Amazon using Amazon FBA in the US.
To “relax” from the daily business grind, for a few weekends a year, he also works for IMSA as a professional race official.