Free returns have long been a cornerstone of shopping at Amazon, but the retailer is taking steps to encourage customers to think before hitting the buy button and the latest is the introduction of a return fee on select orders.
As reported by The Information, Amazon has confirmed that going forward customers will be charged a $1 fee if they wish to return an item via a UPS store when there is a Whole Foods, Kohl’s or Amazon Fresh store closer to the customer’s delivery address.
An Amazon spokesperson told CCN that this change will only impact a small number of customers, and the option of a free return would still be available so long as the customer brings the item to the stores mentioned above. Those three stores are either Amazon-owned or in the case of Kohl’s, have a long-standing partnership with the retailer.
This new $1 return fee is Amazon’s latest tactic in its ongoing effort to reduce the number of returns made by customers. It comes just weeks after Amazon began adding a new label on select product listings to warn potential purchasers that the item in question is classed as “frequently returned.”
Why has Amazon introduced this return fee?
Amazon’s motives for introducing this new return fee will almost certainly be part of its attempt to cut down on the number of returns it has to handle.
It's well-reported that during the pandemic Amazon saw a spike in orders, but that also led to the number of returns skyrocketing. And it would seem that the percentage of returned orders has yet to stabilize for the retailer.
Returns are a real headache for Amazon to deal with. For starters, each one costs money in processing fees, and a returned item also takes up valuable warehouse space. Returning an item is also not a positive experience for the customer, and could make them less inclined to shop with Amazon in the future. So it's very much in Amazon’s best interest to dissuade customers from making purchases that they are likely to end up returning.
There is also an environmental cost to frequent returns, and with Earth Day 2023 on the horizon, it’s not a bad thing that Amazon is taking steps to discourage shoppers from impulse purchases. Plus, the $1 fee is pretty reasonable and is a far cry from the likes of J.Crew and TJ Max who can charge up to $10 in return fees.
Just remember that next time you’re shopping on Amazon, you might have to cough up a little bit of cash if you decide to return the item. So, be sure you’re really thought through your purchase before clicking that big yellow “Buy Now” button.