Amazon FBA repackaging service can no longer be disabled

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An seller has noticed that the Amazon FBA repackaging service which used to be an option is now standard and can no longer be disabled. The Amazon FBA repackaging service is designed to take care of unsellable customer returns and refurbish them to saleable condition.

In the new Amazon Refurbishment Settings, Amazon say that FBA repackages your eligible customer returns so that they can be sold as new. Originally the Amazon FBA repackaging service was opt in, but four years ago it was changed to opt out. Now it’s been changed to a mandatory option.

Refurbishment services

Additional packaging services are available through optional refurbishment. Depending on the item, FBA can re-tape, re-glue, and re-staple boxes; remove excessive tape, non-product labels, and stickers; and re-box branded and unbranded corrugated boxes. Shoes and apparel refurbishment can include steaming and removing stains and odors.
– Amazon FBA repackaging service

This might be an option for Amazon to reduce the sale of distressed goods through Amazon Warehouse. It’s also worth noting that with Amazon Wardrobe they will naturally have an increased incidence of returns as it’s a try before you buy service. In general, in ecommerce returns are a fact of life and they need to be dealt with in some manner. The best is the ability to refurbish products which are genuinely unused to as new condition by replacing packaging, but in particular with apparel there are consumers who won’t just try products on but will wear them once and return them and that’s a problem for the whole industry.

Where this will impact sellers is if they get complaints that items are used when they supplied them to Amazon and they were sold, returned and repackaged and sold again. The seller will have very little visibility on which of their items have been returned and resold and it will be impossible for the seller to differentiate between repackaged and resold returns and items which were sold for the first time.

From a consumer perspective, steaming clothes and removing odours sounds very much like second hand clothes sold as new. It’s uncertain quite how far Amazon will go to refurbish clothes but buyers wouldn’t be particularly impressed if they discovered that their ‘brand new’ party dress for this years Christmas meal had been sold, worn, returned and steamed.

One Response

  1. I have contacted seller-performance@amazon twice about this due to customer complaints regarding “used item sold as new” as our evidence points to the fact that the items in question were FBA refurbished and then re-sold.

    My understanding is that Amazon employees are the ones making the decision with regards to “Is this item ok for re-sale?” and therefore it will be their opinion which could negatively effect metrics.

    I agree in principle with the theory – cut down on removal orders, cut down on items being destroyed, quicker turn around of inventory etc – especially when some customer returns can be resold as new i.e. buyer remorse/unopened.

    However, if Amazon are providing this service outside the seller control then the seller should not have metrics/account/feedback/product review negatively impacted.

    I hope that Amazon can trace each refurbished item.


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