For some shoppers, Amazon is the happiest place on Earth, but others have discovered that it’s not coming up all roses to be an Amazon customer.
These customers, or rather, ex-customers, have learned that despite the shopper-friendly public image that Amazon wants to portray, it has no qualms with banning customers who require extra handling.
Amazon Reduces Returns By Reducing Returners
eCommerce businesses such as Amazon, by and large, have incredibly high return rates, with a commonly quoted figure being something like 30 percent for certain segments that include clothing, shoes and hard to fit items. Somehow Amazon has been able to manage all those returns without blinking. As it turns out, it may be because it has an algorithm in place to identify chronic returners.
It’s just smart business to have a way of identifying problems in the supply chain, in this case, anywhere from the manufacture of the product to the last mile delivery. But, it used to not be a common practice to punish customers for sending items back. Customers are understandably shaken and frustrated, since returns are a significant part of the eCommerce ecosystem.
Risk Scores for Customers?
People have been complaining about the returner banning policy, which they believe is relatively new. Some of the banned got an email warning about their returns activity. Others have been banned out of the blue, while some that have only returned one or two items ever have also been banned.
Unfortunately, creating returns risk scores for customers has become a trend among bigger retailers. For example, Best Buy and JC Penney have both hired a third-party company called Retail Equation to help them determine which customers are the most likely to be guilty of returns abuse or even returns fraud.
Amazon seems to be following suit. The Internet giant claims that all algorithm-identified users are evaluated by a human before any action is taken, but it may ultimately come down to profitability and predictability..
“If your behavior is consistently outside the norm, you’re not really the kind of customer they want,” James Thomson, partner at Buy Box Experts and former Amazon senior manager, told the Wall Street Journal.