Are you still feeling the holiday rush? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. We’re here to bring you news on what the holidays went for Amazon sellers.
The 2023 holiday season (November 1 to December 24) saw a 3.1% year-over-year increase in U.S. sales. As reported by EcommerceBytes, online sales increased 6.3% year-over-year, while in-store purchases were up 2.2%.
🔎 The preliminary insights from Mastercard SpendingPulse revealed the following trends:
- Online shopping is growing faster than in-store. Although in-store purchases still make up a considerable portion of total spending.
- Apparel is the top category of the season, with a 2.4% year-over-year increase. Looks like consumers still love to splurge on new outfits and holiday costumes. 🎃
- The Restaurant and Grocery sectors rose 7.8% and 2.1% year-over-year, respectively.
- Early promotions gave consumers time to hunt for the best bang for their buck.
What does this mean for sellers this year?
Simple: consumer spending behaviors are reverting to pre-pandemic levels, but trends continue to point toward digital stores.
But that’s not all. Other retail waves are emerging—ready to shape the new year—including:
- Widespread use of AI
- Data privacy compliance
- More sophisticated attribution models
- Rising retail media networks
We don’t know for sure what 2024 has in store, but it looks like it’ll have sellers on their toes. The important question is: are you ready to turn the facts into advantages?
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BITES OF THE WEEK
- Attention Amazon EU Sellers: Amazon has new updates to EU FBA fees.
- Improved Services: Speaking of updates, Amazon-partnered carriers have rolled out some significant changes.
- Card to Cash: Do you know where you can sell unused gift cards for extra cash?
- A Billion Sent: Amazon Same-Day Delivery facilities have officially delivered 1 billion packages.
Amazon’s updated holiday returns policy
♻️ As it turns out, Amazon also plans to use these changes as its bid at sustainability, as it works to “maximize reuse and minimize waste.”Here’s thesummary of the changes:
- More than 8,000 drop-off locations are offered in the U.S.
- A return drop-off point is placed within a 5-mile radius of 4 out of 5 customers’ homes.
- Amazon returns kiosks are now available in Whole Foods Market store locations.
- Eligible items can be dropped off in the original packaging.
Does this benefit sellers?
Seeing as these actions are still new, we’re yet to come up with a solid answer for this. But there’s one change that sides in sellers' favor—the shortened holiday returns window. Amazon sellers must accept returns until January 31, 2024 for purchases made from November 1 to December 31, 2023 (ICYDK, Amazon previously allowed returns for purchases made as early as October).
But if you truly want to benefit from the changes, why not start planning on how to properly handle returns? 💭
3 things you should know about Amazon’s 2024 return policies
Speaking of properly handling returns, Jungle Scout shared a refresher to help you deal with such unavoidable hassle.
🥜 Return and refund policy in a nutshell
- Most items have a 30-day return window.
- A Returnless Refund is possible if the cost of shipping returns is higher than the product’s value.
📤 Returns outside of Amazon’s policy
Sometimes, buyers have a change of heart for reasons beyond policies. It’s up to you to honor the returns or not. Do note that you can charge a restocking fee if:
- The item was used, damaged, defective, or materially different.
- The item is outside the 30-day return window.
⚠️ Returns policy updates
ICYMI, FBA sellers will be slapped with fees for high-return rate products starting June 1, 2024. Fortunately, there are programs to help you do this, including FBA Liquidations, FBA Grade and Resell, and FBA Donations.
Aside from this, Amazon hasn’t rolled out other major changes to its general returns policies. But you should keep your eyes and ears open for news like this to stay on top of your returns handling process.