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The New Amazon Returns Processing Fee: 2024  Changes in Amazon’s Return Policy

Written by
Vanessa Hung
Published on
January 25, 2024

For Amazon sellers, 2024 ushers in a pivotal update: the Amazon 2024 Returns Processing Fee. Effective June 1, 2024, this new policy will redefine the cost structure associated with customer returns, directly impacting profitability and operational strategies. 

As return rates influence the bottom line, understanding the nuances of this change isn't just beneficial—it's essential for success in the world’s largest online marketplace. Sellers need to dissect what the Returns Processing Fee entails, how it's calculated, and the ways it can shape their approach to sales and customer service. 

This blog aims to help sellers understand Amazon's policy adjustment, delivering a clear, data-driven breakdown of the upcoming fees and offering actionable insights. Whether you're a seasoned seller or fresh on the scene, staying informed is your first step towards optimizing your Amazon business strategy in 2024. Let’s dive in!

What is the Amazon Return Processing Fee?

Amazon's New Return Processing Fee is an additional charge that customers will incur when they decide to return items bought on the platform. The fee is structured based on the type of item, its size, and the reason for the return. For instance, returns due to an error on Amazon's part or the seller's part (such as incorrect items or defective products) are not subject to the fee.

Fee Structure

The exact structure of the fee tiers has been outlined by Amazon and varies depending on the category and dimensions of the product being returned. The system aims to be fair by adjusting fees according to the logistic costs involved in returning the product.

Fee Calculation and Rate Cards

Product Size Tiers

The fee is calculated using product size tiers, which take into account the unit weight, product dimensions, and dimensional weight. Sellers can determine their product size tier and find details about the shipping weight, which can be based on either unit weight or dimensional weight.

Rate Card Application

Amazon provides rate cards that list the returns processing fee based on the product's size tier and shipping weight. These rate cards will be applied differently for apparel and shoes compared to other categories.

The table below plots all charges according to size tier and shipping weight per product:

Fee Examples

Let's take a look at a few illustrative examples:

Implications for Sellers and Buyers

For third-party sellers, the new fee could mean a reduction in the number of frivolous returns, as the additional cost might discourage customers from returning items without a strong reason. It may also shift some of the financial burdens of returns to the customers, potentially leading to an increase in net profits for sellers.

Buyers who are accustomed to free and easy returns may need to become more discerning with their purchases. With the introduction of the fee, they will bear some of the costs for returning non-defective items. This change encourages a more responsible buying behavior and potentially reduces the environmental impact caused by reverse logistics.

Amazon's Support System for the New Fee

Tools for Sellers

To help sellers adapt, Amazon has launched tools and programs that provide insights into return reasons and customer feedback. These tools enable sellers to improve their products and listings, hopefully reducing the number of returns due to customer dissatisfaction or misunderstanding.

Customer Education

Amazon is also putting emphasis on educating its customers about the new fee. A transparent system helps customers understand why they might be charged for returns and how they can avoid these fees by making more careful purchasing decisions.

How Does This Affect the Marketplace?

The new Return Processing Fee policy could potentially transform the Amazon marketplace in several ways:

Calculating Your Return Rate 

Determining the Return Rate

Amazon's returns processing fee will be levied on products that exceed a certain return rate threshold, specific to each product category. The return rate is calculated as the percentage of a product’s shipped units within a month that customers return in that same month and the following two calendar months. For instance, if you ship units in June, returns from June, July, and August will inform your return rate.

Dynamic Return Rate Thresholds

Each product category will have its own return rate threshold, which will be published on May 1, 2024. Products that stay within this threshold will not be subject to the additional fee. However, returns exceeding this limit will incur the fee for each returned unit above the threshold.

Timeline for Charges

Sellers will see return fees charged to their account between the 7th to 15th day of the third month following the shipment. For example, returns from June 2024 will result in charges between September 7 and 15.

The FBA Returns Dashboard

Starting May 1, 2024, sellers can access their product’s return rate on the FBA Returns dashboard, which is updated weekly. This tool allows you to track and manage returns effectively and understand how close you are to crossing the return rate threshold.

Exemptions to the Fee

Notably, products that ship less than 25 units in a month are exempt from the fee. The focus here is on high return rate products, not on sellers with low shipment volumes. Additionally, returned products enrolled in the FBA New Selection program will have fees waived for up to 20 units of each eligible parent ASIN, providing some relief to new product launches.

Conclusion

As 2024 unfolds, Amazon's Returns Processing Fee becomes a reality that sellers must navigate to safeguard their margins and enhance profitability. Understanding and adapting to this policy is not optional—it's critical. 

It's time to act: Keep a close eye on your return rates, double down on product quality, and ensure your listings accurately represent your offerings. This is how you convert potential setbacks into a strategic advantage. 

Equip yourself with the know-how to manage this change effectively, and position your Amazon business to prosper in the face of new marketplace dynamics. Armed with the right strategies and a forward-thinking mindset, you're set to not only manage this change but to excel because of it. Here's to mastering these new rules and achieving great success in the year ahead—good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

1 - What is Amazon's returns processing fee for 2024?

Starting on June 1, 2024, Amazon will implement a returns processing fee for products with high return rates across all categories, excluding apparel and shoes. This fee aims to cover the operational costs of returns and encourage a reduction in waste.

2 - How is the returns processing fee calculated?

The fee is based on the product’s return rate, which is determined by the percentage of shipped units within a month that are returned over that month and the following two months. If returns exceed the category-specific threshold, a fee is charged per returned unit above the threshold.

3 - Are there any exemptions for low-volume shipments?

Yes, if a product ships less than 25 units in a given month, it is exempt from the returns processing fee.

4 - Will sellers have tools to track return rates?

Yes, the FBA Returns dashboard, available from May 1, 2024, will allow sellers to monitor their product’s return rates and manage returns effectively.

5 - How will the returns processing fee affect apparel and shoe categories?

The fee structure for apparel and shoes is different, where every return is charged without a threshold. This fee is already in effect and will continue as is.

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