Returns in January - Something to worry about?

Returns in January – Something to worry about?

Today’s post will be about returns and selling on amazon, primarily through FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon).  I often heard sellers mention that they are concerned about the number of returns that they will have in January as a result of Christmas related returns.  They even coined the term “Return-uary” to describe the month.  Possible reasons for increased returns include: people receiving gifts they don’t want, they received multiple of the same gift, an item arrived damaged (see picture above), arrived late, or some other reason.  People are free to return products ordered on amazon for virtually any reason, and this is a large reason that customers are willing to pay more for items that are sold via Prime and fulfilled by amazon as they have confidence they will be properly taken care of.  Amazon also has an extended return policy during the Christmas season.  For 2013, any items ordered between November 1st and December 31st were eligible for return until January 31st.

I will admit that I was legitimately concerned about the number of returns that I would have in January based on the talk of other sellers.  So was it merited? Let’s take a look at a couple of screenshots from my account to find out.  First, here is a screenshot showing my account since the date I opened it through February 4th.  I blocked out any information related to February sales as you will have to wait for the February financial results to find that out.  Here’s the first screenshot (click to enlarge): Account opening through todayAs you can see from this screenshot my normal refund % as a result of returns is 2.07%.  I don’t really have much of a basis for comparison, but this number doesn’t bother me at all.  A side note here about feedback, you can see that I have received 42 feedback on 1604 orders, or about 2.62%.  I think this a fairly average rate, but it is extremely low, especially if you are used to eBay before selling on amazon.  Anyways, let’s take a look at my refund rate for November 1st through January 31st and see if it increased (click to enlarge): Nov-JanAs you can see from this time period my refund rate was 2.83% which is 0.76% higher than what I have seen on my account all time, and it is about a 36.7% increase in refund rate versus my all time percentage.  Now, I am not going to say that this is an insignificant increase, but this increase in refund rate doesn’t bother me at all.  Here’s why: the sales in December that I had were higher than I ever expected, I will get these items back and can sell them again (likely not in the same condition however), some of them will be reimbursed by amazon if the reason for the refund was not my fault, and returns are part of the deal.

In regards to returns and getting reimbursed by amazon.  If the item is damaged in transit, then you should get reimbursed, if the item is returned outside the return window allowed, then you should get reimbursed, if the item is not actually returned you should get reimbursed, and there are other reasons as well.  There are many reasons that you are able to get reimbursed from amazon for problems that customers have with orders.  As amazon handles all of the fulfillment end of things, they will take responsibility financially for problems that happen on their end.  I recently read a post by a fellow FBA blogger about returns and how to check the reasons customers returned items, and how to request a reimbursement from amazon if it is merited.  If you are interested, HERE is a link.  I don’t receive any compensation for including this link, it is simply a post I found valuable and think you might too.

Overall, I found that “Return-uary” is really nothing to worry about.  The way some people were discussing the returns, I would have thought that 10% plus of their orders were getting returned.  For me this clearly was not the case.  Did you see a significant increase in returns in January?

Let me know in the comments, and as always please leave any other questions and comments below, or send me an email at

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