Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Turnover Tuesdays - All My Returns Will Now Going to be Inspected By Me, Not Amazon

For those who are not familiar, I started a series a while back called Turnover Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I like to highlight one item that I have resold. This will include profitable and non profitable sales. I hope that there is always something to learn.

The previous posts in the series can be found at the bottom of this post.

Update: It seems that this option allows Amazon to repackage any item that has damaged packaging and sell as new.  However, if an associate deems something sellable as is, there is no way to stop them from automatically putting it back into your inventory other than a removal order.  

It is Your Choice to Have Amazon Inspect Items or Do it Yourself

Amazon gives you the option of inspecting returns for you.  This is a service that they provide for free which is nice.  If they deem the returned unit to be sellable as new, they will put the item back into your inventory and sell it for you without you touching it again.

The other option is that Amazon will not inspect it for you.  You have to create a removal order, inspect it yourself and send it back in.

Having Amazon inspect it is nice.  It saves you time and money.  You don't have to pay $.50 to have the unit removed to you and the shipping back to an Amazon warehouse.  Until yesterday, this was the option I chose.

Finding the Option Yourself

Enabling or disabling this option is not hard to find.  Go to Settings>Fulfillment by Amazon (upper right hand corner of your selling account).

Then find "Repacking Settings" and choose enabled or disabled.

You can also use this link to get there.

What Pushed Me Over the Edge?

I decided to make the change for two reasons:

1) I don't trust Amazon, period.

This is a general philosophy you should live by unfortunately.  It seems that the more I let Amazon do, the more they mess up and with increasing frequency recently, though that may have to do with my increasing number of sales as well.

Amazon is a pretty amazing shipping and logistical company when they aren't "borrowing" your inventory without reimbursements but some things they seem to do a poorer job on.

Recently I have had a spat of some terrible reviews on items.  Many of them say more or less the same thing, I bought this item as new and it came with seal broken, taped up, scratches, item doesn't work, etc.

90%+ of the time I had never even got a return sent back home and I know it didn't come from Walmart that way but I did have a return that was deemed sellable by Amazon so I know for sure it is Amazon inspecting the returns.

All these things show that Amazon isn't inspecting items as carefully as I would myself.  If something had a seal broken, that is an automatic reason to sell as used.  I am very careful when I inspect.  Amazon has so many returns that it can be much more difficult for them.  Only you are as invested in your company, not Amazon.

My working assumption is that they are just using the customer's reason for the return to determine whether the item is sellable and don't actually inspect the packages.  It's not uncommon to have an item Amazon determines to be unsellable and when it comes back to you it is completely unopened with the seal intact and no damage to be seen.  The customer marked it as defective to receive free return shipping so Amazon sends it back to you since it must be defective if the customer says so.

As I sell more, I have Amazon do less.  I don't commingle inventory anymore, I'm thinking I shouldn't have Amazon label items for me anymore since I have had a few listings mislabeled and now I'm not going to have them inspect returns anymore.

I don't think I'll ever get to the point where I want to be entirely FBM but who knows.  They seem to do FBA pretty well for now even if there are delays sometimes.  The cost structure for FBM is significantly higher on most items as I am finding out with Walmart.

2) Your Are Putting Your Account at Risk

As I mentioned, I've gotten a few bad reviews for things that "aren't my fault".  Normally Amazon will remove reviews that are based off the FBA process but these can be surprisingly difficult to remove.

In addition, there are some reports of seller suspensions for the same reason.  If someone reports that you are selling items that you claim are new and are coming damaged, that can become a problem for you even if the root problem is actually Amazon.

Selling on Amazon has become an important part of my ability to earn a living.  I'd live without it but there is no way I want to get rid of it.  It's a bit unsettling putting so much of your livelihood in the hands of another company.  That means that I have to be more cautious not to do anything that can cause a suspension.  It might cost me a few more dollars to have items sent back but if it keeps the bad reviews down and the suspensions away it is well worth it.

Any war stories out there about returns?  I'd love to hear them in the comments.

Week 1 - First attempt at reselling
Week 64 - The Buy Box
Week 65 - Amazon Restrictions and the Future of Selling on Amazon
Week 66 - Fun with Inventory Reimbursements
Week 67 - Q4 Storage Fees
Week 68 - Start Your Own Listings
Week 69 - A Long Tail Sale and Calculating Storage Fees
Week 70  - Prices Always Come Back Except When They Don't
Week 71 - Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results
Week 72 - Automation Beyond Amazon
Week 73 - Some Quick Holiday Tips
Week 74 - Update on Miles vs. Cashback Opportunity Costs
Week 75 - Pricing for the 4th Quarter Madness
Week 76 - Returns, Returns, Returns
Week 77 - Reimbursement
Week 78 - Q4 for Accelerated Inventory Turnover
Week 79 - How it is Going Outside of Amazon
Week 80 - 2017 Goals
Week 81 - I've Violated All of My Rules
Week 82 - When You Are That Shady Seller
Week 83 - January is part of Q4