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Why Some Retailers Are Issuing Refunds Without Returns

Will it become a widespread practice?
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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Retailers have tumbled through flaming hoops to ease returns for shoppers, offering to pick up packages from their homes or forging unlikely store drop-off partnerships. Now, the WSJ reports some retailers are implementing buyers-keepers policies.

Amazon, Chewy, Target, and Walmart are issuing return refunds but allowing shoppers to keep or donate their unwanted items. Their logic: Long term, it cuts costs.

  • Retail automation exec Rick Faulk told the WSJ returns can cost a retailer between $10 and $20 per purchase, excluding shipping costs.
  • That adds up when 25% to 30% of all e-comm orders end up returned.

But like any return policy...this trend’s got fine print. The WSJ notes that refunds make sense at opposite ends of the returns spectrum: for items so small they’re pocket change, or items so big they’re too heavy to re-ship. Middle ground items still can go back where they came from.

One upside: Shipping and returns are usually where customer-retailer relationships break down. No take-backs is so frictionless, it could build loyalty.

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