On September 2nd, Amazon announced a new feature for seller-fulfilled returns: the Returns Performance Dashboard. The dashboard will track three key metrics for product returns:
Amazon’s announcement also states that each performance metric will contain details for the following areas:
The dashboard will launch on October 21, 2021.
On the same day, Amazon is also launching the Returns Analysis page, which will display any product listings that experience return issues. According to Amazon, “This page will help you identify the top return issue for each of your product listings so you can take action to improve the return experience.”
The Returns Analysis page will display three filters:
This dashboard is only for seller-fulfilled returns, not FBA returns. This distinction is notable because it implies at least some of Amazon’s motivation: As FBM becomes more common in the wake of ongoing FBA restrictions, Amazon appears to be trying to protect customers’ delivery experience by requiring FBM to level-set with FBA quality.
Shoppers should enjoy a high-quality experience regardless of whether an order was fulfilled through FBM or FBA. Amazon already has controls in place to measure and maintain quality at FBA. Now, they seek to do the same for FBM.
According to Amazon’s FAQs, sellers will not be penalized if their metrics fall below a certain performance threshold.
This seems likely to change, given Amazon’s long history of requiring sellers to meet certain performance standards that impact the customer experience. Amazon may allow sellers time to familiarize themselves with the dashboard and revise it based on feedback before they announce requirements and enforcement actions.
While Amazon has not announced any new enforcement actions, it’s worth noting that fulfillment method and return rates have been business-critical metrics for many years on Amazon.
Normal VS Suppressed Buy Box
When multiple sellers are in the same product listing, only one is featured in the buy box at any given time. How does Amazon decide which seller wins the buy box? In order of importance, Amazon’s algorithm uses the following factors in its determination:
If all things are equal, each seller would get an equal share of time in the buy box. However, this combination of factors ensures that there will always be a difference.
As with most Amazon announcements that impact sellers, this news was met with mixed results in the Seller Central forums. Some of the most-cited concerns included over regulation and risk to sellers’ business if they are penalized for high return rates.
Some sellers claim that customers exploit Amazon’s returns policy, which automatically approves the vast majority of return requests. Customers who request a return can be issued an automatic refund or replacement, even before (or without ever) returning the product.
The concern is that the automatic approval system would result in unfair penalties to sellers if Amazon does ever choose to set performance requirements and enforcement actions.
The following product categories are exempt from automatic approvals and may be authorized manually:
Products with a price greater than $100 AND require special shipping are eligible to be exempted from automatic approvals. Sellers must submit these requests to Amazon.
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