Amazon: Sellers must pay for overseas returns

Amazon Returns smAmazon have been emailing sellers reminding them of their International Returns Policies. Basically they say that if you’re selling on an Amazon site other than your domestic country site that you either have to have a local returns address in the territory that you operate or that you must pick up the postage tab for all international returns.

The email that Amazon are sending out gives sellers until the 20th of January to comply, otherwise selling privileges may be revoked.

Of course if you use Amazon FBA to fulfil overseas orders then you don’t have to worry – you just made it Amazon’s problem to deal with returns. However if you fulfil orders yourself then you need to carry the can for the return postage costs.

One of the difficulties of trading overseas is that, whilst you may be able to negotiate great rates to send parcels, it’s significantly more difficult to arrange a reasonable contract for returning the odd parcel from random locations around the world on an ad hoc basis.

The chances are high that your customer will simply take the parcel to their local Post Office in whichever country they reside and the return costs will be many times the original shipment cost. One Tamebay reader has already stated “I think with the value of our products if customers want to return we will just refund and not bother getting it back“.

As with all aspects of trading retailers will need to decide for themselves, based on the number of historical returns they receive, if it’s worth getting the goods back, if they can arrange a international addresses, if they should switch to Amazon FBA, or if costs are too high if it’s simply not worth selling certain products into overseas territories.

Here’s the full text of the email from Amazon

Subject: Return Policies for International Sellers
Dear Seller,
If you sell on an Amazon marketplace website in a country outside your business location, you should be familiar with our international returns policies.
Customers buying on Amazon expect a consistent and straightforward product return experience. In order to create a consistent return experience, we require all sellers either to 1) provide a local address in their Elected Country for returns, or 2) pay for return shipping on all returns. For example, if you sell on Amazon.com, you must either provide a return address within the United States or provide free return shipping for buyers in the United States.
All sellers, including sellers shipping from a country outside of the marketplace on which they’re selling, must abide by this policy. Failure to meet this requirement by January 20, 2015 may result in the removal of your selling privileges.
To update your local return address in Seller Central, follow these steps:
1. On the Settings link, select Account Info.
2. On the Seller Account Information page, go to the Return Information section and click Edit.
3. Select an existing address as your default return address, or enter a new default return address.
4. Click Submit.
To upload a pre-paid return mailing label for a return request, follow these
steps:
1. On the Orders link, select Manage Returns.
2. Click “Authorize Request for the return request you’d like to approve.”
3. In the “Your return mailing label” section, select “I will provide a pre-paid mailing label for this request.”
4. Upload a shipping label, select the carrier used, and enter the Tracking ID if you have it.
5. Set the return label cost to $0.00 to ensure the buyer is not charged for return shipping.
For more information about creating return mailing labels, search for “Return Addresses and Mailing Labels” in seller Help.
You can find more details on this requirement and review Amazon’s additional policies for international sellers on the following Help page:
Important Information for International Sellers https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/seller/registration/participationAgreement.html?itemID=200404870&language=en_US
Thank you for taking steps to improve the buyer experience on Amazon.com. We appreciate your attention to this policy, and would welcome your feedback.
Please email us at international-returns-feedback@amazon.com.
Thank you for selling on Amazon.com.
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