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Amazon's New Return Policy Has Customers Dancing.  Sellers, Not So Much Photo by New York Post

Amazon's New Return Policy Has Customers Dancing. Sellers, Not So Much

LIFT Staff
09/15/2017

Amazon's new return policy rolls out October 2nd and Amazon customers should be celebrating.  Forgive the sellers if they are not twerking along.  According to an article by CNBCif  an Amazon customer is unsatisfied with their order for any reason, they can print out a return shipping label, and return the product on the seller's dime.  Naturally, this is a win for the customer if something is truly wrong with the product, saving them time, money and gaining confidence in their purchases.  Buuuuut, what does this mean for the mom and pop seller on Amazon?  No verification on damage, no communication with customer, no offer for discount to customer, just taking it in the shorts for return, refund and shipping.

Amazon will argue that this will add to the customer's experience and confidence in shopping on Amazon either directly through products Fulfilled by Amazon or through third party sellers.  In Amazon's mind, the customer is always, always, always, right.  I agree if Amazon is going to pick up the tab for the return.  But, to not allow the small businesses to have a say in it doesn't past the smell test.  Is this an attempt to encourage more sellers to use the Fulfill by Amazon option?  Or maybe, Amazon wants to squeeze out the very businesses that helped to build Amazon to what it is today.  

This new policy certainly gives the Amazon customer less to think about than a customer on Walmart.com.  In store, no retailer has a more lax and accommodating return policy than Walmart.  You can return parachute pants purchased from the Merry Go Round to a local Walmart and they will accept without a word.  On Walmart.com though, the policy is returns can be made in store or on .com for all items purchased directly from Walmart.  If purchased through a Marketplace Seller, the individual seller's return policy is in effect.  One would have to think that Walmart will see how this plays out on Amazon and may tinker with their policies moving forward.

With these moves and hints of others, one could reasonably assume that maybe Amazon doesn't hold its third party sellers in the highest regard and may be looking for ways to bring more "in house".  While the model has certainly worked to date, Team Bezos doesn't seem to have anything that they can't directly control.  Time will tell, but for now, looks like Customers 1, Mom and Pop 0.