Amazon is always on the hunt for the next big thing that will improve customer satisfaction and drive more sales with fewer problems. It’s all about the customer journey and the overall customer experience and is continuously improving every aspect of its services.
Sometimes, this takes the form of updating the online ratings, and other times it’s making significant changes to some of its outdated policies.
And that’s precisely what’s going on right now. The newest policy changes will have an impact on both the sellers and the buyers, so buckle up and get ready.
Significant Changes to the Return and Refund Process
A policy change regarding the return and refund process was announced by Amazon on November 4th. The change has taken effect on November 15th, and will only impact those sellers outside the US who are fulfilling customer orders inside the US. So, unless you’re an international seller, this new policy won’t have much of an effect on your processes.
International sellers, on the other hand, have received just an 11-days’ notice that they will now be required to provide Amazon with a valid US return address for items under $10. In other words, international sellers were required to come up with a physical US address in less than two weeks! Jeff Bezos is known for his affinity to disruptive business tactics, but many merchants were not very happy with the sudden changes.
That valid US address from international sellers is to be used by Amazon for generating prepaid return labels for customers on eligible return requests.
According to the announcement, should those sellers who fulfill customer orders inside the US fail to provide Amazon with a US address, the eCommerce giant will issue the customer a refund for eligible returns without actually requiring the item to be returned.
This policy change can be both beneficial and detrimental to international merchants.
On the one hand, they risk falling victim to scammers. Essentially, buyers can purchase items from these merchants, file dishonest return claims, and perhaps get to keep some of the items for free. Amazon is doing what it can to prevent scamming, but this is still a real possibility.
On the other hand, international merchants could gain something from this policy. Processing returns is costly for the sellers. It’s not just the shipping costs that they need to cover — there are also processing fees for sending the money back to the buyers’ cards, inspections of the returned items for damages, the costs of disposing of the items if they cannot be resold, etc. For items under $10, it’s often more cost-efficient for merchants to have a returnless refund.
A New Time Limit on Seller’s Response to Return Requests
While the first policy change that Amazon announced mostly impacts international sellers, this second one will affect all merchants on the site. On November 5th, the policy change that requires sellers to respond to return requests within 48 hours was announced and immediately put into effect.
This is an important change in the A-to-Z Guarantee Claims policy. Your customers are required to submit a return request in the Online Return Center, and before they can become eligible to file a claim, they have to wait 48 hours for your response.
All of your outstanding return requests are visible in Seller Center on the Manage Returns page, and you are required to respond within 48 hours, even during the weekend.
As it’s stated in the announcement, should merchants not respond to return requests within this time frame, Amazon will grant this claim, and your account will be debited for the claim amount. Of course, if you believe that this was erroneous, you can always submit an appeal.
While this may seem like extra work for the merchants, it’s good news as customers mainly cannot complain about the items they’ve purchased without giving the merchants a chance to set things right.
This does, of course, require you to be vigilant and responsive to all the return requests, but hopefully, it will make the A-to-Z guarantee claims somewhat more comfortable to handle.
Marketing Strategies Made Simpler with “Manage Your Experiments”
There’s no denying that every brand can benefit from making data-driven marketing decisions, and one of arguably the best changes that Amazon’s introduced recently is the “Manage Your Experiments” (MYE) tool.
On November 6th, Amazon announced that all brands who create A+ content could use the “Manage Your Experiments” tool to do A/B tests and test 2 versions of their content to see which one is more appealing to their customers.
The MYE feature allows brands to increase their sales and improve their A+ content through data-driven marketing.
Brands will first have the option to run controlled experiments and test the performance of their content. They will then be able to interpret the results from the dashboard and optimize the content to drive more sales.
Unfortunately, not all brands will be eligible for “Manage Your Experiments.” To qualify, you’ll have to have the Brand Representative role in the Brand Registry, and you’ll need at least one eligible ASIN that’s published A+ content, belongs to your brand and has high traffic.
The eligibility requirements are high, but any brand that meets them will only stand to benefit from MYE. You can decrease the amount of time that it takes for you to test your different product marketing strategies and ensure that your customers respond to your efforts well.