Amazon Extends the Holiday Return Window (Again)
November 18, 2021
A customer’s joy and a seller’s frustration – the ease of Amazon returns! If you’re familiar with selling on Amazon, you know the challenges that come along with navigating returns on the platform. To further complicate the matter, Amazon has extended the return window for purchases made between October 1st and December 31st for the second holiday season in a row.
In 2020, Amazon announced that, due to the difficulties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, customers who purchased between October 1st and December 31st would be allowed to make returns until January 31st. In previous years (2019 and before), the extended holiday return window ran from November 1st to January 31st. Most sellers were hoping that the return period would go back to the historic three-month duration in 2021, but Amazon has other ideas.
There are many concerns for sellers surrounding the four-month window wherein customers are allowed to initiate a return. On the other hand, buyers are gladly taking advantage of the new generous policy.
Pros for the Customers
- Lower Risk of Buyer’s Remorse
The dreaded feeling of buyer’s remorse keeps many customers second-guessing a purchase before making a final decision. However, with such a long period of opportunity to change their mind, they’ll likely perceive risks to be lower.
- Greater Perceived Flexibility in Choosing Variations
When buying items that provide a choice between color, size, version, etc., customers may be unsure as to which selection is right for them, especially when purchasing as a gift for someone else. Because many gifts are purchased in advance, knowing items will be eligible for return a month after Christmas may relieve pressure on selecting the right item.
Cons for the Seller
- Extended Window for Buyer’s Remorse to Occur
With up to four months to make a determination on whether or not they made the right purchase, your risk as a seller drastically increases. Within this longer time period, the buyer may be exposed to competitor products with lower prices or additional features, discover they don’t actually use the product as much as they thought, or decide they’d rather spend their money on something else.
- Customers May Take Less Precautions When Choosing Variations
With a reduced perceived risk of making the “wrong” choice, customers may be careless or take fewer precautions on making the correct selection when choosing the right variation, leading to unpreventable increased return rates.
- Customers Can Return a Used Product…Up to Four Months Later
Due to Amazon’s extremely relaxed return guidelines and few policies in place to protect the seller from used returns, or even returns of the wrong item, many sellers are concerned they will receive an influx of used products returned as “new”.
- What about Seasonal & Holiday Items?
A hot topic of the return discussion is centered on seasonal and holiday items and decor. What prevents customers from purchasing products in these categories, using them for the season, and returning it in January? The answer is…not much.
- Reporting & Logistical Challenges
The four-month return window gives way to a reporting nightmare. Reconciling return data could take 120 days before seeing accurate numbers. This unknown leaves question marks for sellers as they move into strategic planning for 2022. Logistical challenges also abound, as warehouses are tasked with potentially receiving and sorting returned inventory that’s up to four months old.
ZQUARED Handles These Issues for You
If you feel like you’re drowning in the world of Amazon, we have built a team of industry experts who are ready to throw you a life preserver. Our streamlined return process limits potential issues and resolves them quickly when they occur.
We are dedicated to educating and guiding you through the most effective techniques to boost your sales and increase brand awareness on Amazon. Our wide range of skill sets and decades of cumulative experience allow us to leverage your brand’s strengths, positioning your products to take full advantage of the influx of traffic that the platform sees during the fourth quarter. We ensure your top features and benefits are highlighted, your listings are fully optimized, the most up-to-date SEO strategies are implemented, and advertising is running with the current, effective practices. The end result is a professional, top-level Amazon strategy that is ready and able to take on the ever-increasing competition.