eBay tends to skew about 2% to 3% higher because people are dealing with individuals. Although just over 50% of all sales on Amazon are from individual sellers, since over ½ of those sellers use FBA, the rates tend to be lower than eBay’s.
Online retail in general usually has higher buyer return rates than average (about 2-3 percentage points), because customers cannot feel & touch the product before they buy And, Amazon (and now eBay to a lesser extent) have very liberal return policies.
Products with Reasonable Return Rates (Typically less than 10%).
The variance tends to be a factor of the sub-category. For example, in the Garden category, solar lighting products can be as high as 12% to 14%.
- Books and Media (Music, Movies, games, etc.) tend to have lower return rates in the 5% to 7% rate.
- Home & Kitchen – 8% to 10%
- Garden – 7% to 10%
- Automotive accessories – 8% to 10%
- Art, Crafts & Sewing – 7% to 9%
- Grocery & Gourmet Food 9% to 12%
- Sports & Outdoors – 8% to 10%
- Tools and Home Improvement 8% to 10%
- Pet Supplies (hard goods – 10%, treats and food – 15%)
Higher Return Rate Categories:
- Consumer electronics – 25% to 35%
- Baby – 15% to 25% depending on subcategory
- Clothing – 28% to 36% (Color and size tend to be the most reported reason for returns)
- Cell Phone accessories – 30% to 40%
- Fine Jewelry – 30% to 40% (Sterling silver usually does better than fine gold, and products with precious stones tend towards the higher end of the range)
- Fashion Jewelry – 16% to 25%
- Clothing accessories
- Fitted items with sizes – 25% to 30%
- Non-fitted (size) items – 18% to 21%
- Toys and Games – 15% to 18%
- Beauty & Personal Care 16% to 20%
Tips to reduce return rates
- Write complete and accurate descriptions
- Help buyers with sizing information (Size charts, etc.)
- Render colors accurately
- Carefully inspect packages sent to FBA for accuracy information
- Send returning buyers a polite and respectful email asking them the precise reason for their return
- You can use this feedback to prevent future returns
Tip to reduce return costs
- Savvy Amazon buyers have learned that if they claim an item was defective, then Amazon pays their return shipping. The problem is I often get items back where the package has never been opened. When this happens, I take a photo and open a support with Amazon.
This will occasionally cause Amazon to reverse my refund cost, but also causes Amazon to look at the buyer’s account. If they see a lot of returns with the reason given as “Defective,” then they may block that buyer in the future.