What does Amazon’s new fashion returns policy mean for me?
Updated: Feb 14
From next week, October 26, 2021, Amazon will introduce a controversial new policy requiring Sellers to pay for return shipping on fashion purchases.
Amazon has emailed Sellers notifying them of the change following what they say is customers not being full satisfied with the current return experience of seller-fulfilled orders.
The email read: “To provide the best possible customer experience, you will no longer be able to deduct the return shipping fee for prepaid labels on in policy returns. This will take effect on October 26, 2021, and apply to all Fashion items listed under Apparel, Shoes, Jewellery, or Watches sold in Amazon's online store and shipped to a US address.
“We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that our Return Policies already require Selling Partners to have return policies that are at least as favourable as the Amazon return policies.”
Amazon has stated that it already offers free returns and that customers “expect the same return experience for seller-fulfilled orders”.
Thompson and Holt senior case handler Laura Monk that the policy’s impact should not be underestimated.
“For third-party Sellers in the fashion section, this has come at a difficult time,” Monk explained. “It comes when shipping costs are rising significantly in some areas, and will likely lead to many having to raise their prices to cover the inevitable costs.
“Many already offer free shipping to compete with rivals, but having to foot the bill for returns - in an area that sees them happen more than most - is a definite blow. In fashion, customers often buy multiple sizes in outfits that they like and return the ones that don’t fit, so this is a damaging move for Sellers.
“We’ve seen Amazon discussion boards full of complaints over the move and have heard directly from Sellers that we deal with outlining their concerns around it. More than one have said that they are increasingly feel like an Amazon employee rather than running their own business on the site.
“Others have highlighted the fact that raising prices above other websites - in order to cover this new cost - goes against Sellers’ agreement with Amazon, and could be flagged for ‘high price errors’.
“The other issue to consider here is whether Amazon will push this policy out into other departments in coming years and months. It’s something that can’t be discounted.
“This is a policy that certainly isn’t a minor change for a lot of Amazon Sellers, and its impact could be far reaching.”