Automatic Returns, Returnless Refunds & Seller Feedback

by Colleen Quattlebaum

Automatic returns and returnless refunds have been popular seller forum topics for the better part of a year.

While the chatter continues among sellers, at eComEngine we believe these changes will prove to be mutually beneficial for shoppers and sellers alike. By streamlining the return and refund management process, Amazon has given merchants a golden opportunity to further delight customers and, in turn, enhance their seller reputations.

Let's take a closer look.

Immediate Gratification for the Customer

As an avid shopper on the Amazon marketplace, it's very rare for me to feel dissatisfied with a purchase. Frankly, I almost take my own satisfaction for granted. Naturally, there have been a few exceptions to this rule. Products occasionally arrive with defects, while others simply fail to live up to my expectations (Note to self: read more reviews next time!).

When things don't go as planned, Amazon shoppers like me expect a painless return and/or refund process. And, for years, Amazon-fulfilled orders that have fallen within these guidelines have followed a frustration-free experience. However, as we all know, a large percentage of orders (and subsequent refunds) are managed by third-party sellers (like you). Despite your commitment to deliver a smooth return workflow, it's hard to beat instant gratification. The automatic return system levels up seller-fulfilled returns to be more consistent with shopper expectations, as established by Amazon-fulfilled orders.

Enhanced Workflow for the Seller

At first glance, it's understandable as to why some sellers have expressed concerns about automatic authorization. What about shoppers who try to game the system? Will sellers experience upticks in shipping expenses, thereby offsetting profitability?

Concerns aside, Amazon's optimized return process offers a number of tangible benefits for self-fulfilling sellers. These include:

Fewer Business Interruptions: With automatic returns, Amazon steps in front and handles the minutia of the return process. This allows sellers to spend less time on manual authorizations and more time on serving customers and growing their businesses.

Reduced Shipping Rates: Some sellers have actually reported a net savings when it comes to the cost of return shipping expenses. Click here to review the shipping cost table for seller-fulfilled returns.

Returnless Refunds: The returnless refund option seeks to further streamline things for both customers and merchants. By applying this rule to certain order criteria or specific SKUs, sellers can minimize unnecessary work (and unsalable inventory) while simultaneously delighting customers.

Less Friction: As a seller, the last thing you want to do is be an impediment to your customer's satisfaction. Unfortunately, you're not available 24 hours per day to manually review and approve customer return requests. Automatic returns reduce unnecessary friction without placing any additional demands on you.

Better Feedback: Seller feedback is still extremely important, and shoppers aren't shy about rating their interactions. Automatic returns and returnless refunds are bound to have a positive impact on Amazon feedback in the long run.

Happier Customers, Better Feedback

At the end of the day, your Amazon shoppers know when they want to make a return or request a refund. As with any business endeavor, some customers have unrealistic expectations. Some might even try to game the system. That being said, the vast majority of Amazon shoppers are reasonable people who are invested in the Amazon way of life.

So, the next time a pre-authorized refund appears in your Seller Central account, just think of it as an investment in delighting your customers.

In time, your seller feedback score - and your bottom line - will thank you.

Originally published on May 24, 2018, updated August 7, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.