Amazon has taken the world by storm, with its Prime membership offering fast shipping services and other incentives that make it a more attractive e-commerce shopping service than competitors like eBay. With Amazon’s continued growth in popularity and influence over the e-commerce market, companies worldwide have had to adjust their strategies to compete with the online retailer. But what impact has Amazon had on shipping policies and refund policies? Let’s explore the impact Amazon has had on customer expectations of shipping and refund policies.
When it comes to shipping policies, Amazon has had an enormous impact. One of the biggest trends Amazon has influenced is the increase in expected shipping times. In the United States, the average cost of shipping a parcel has increased from $7.50 in 2006 to $18.50 in 2018. This is partially due to Amazon’s decision to prioritize speed over cost when choosing which shippers to work with. Amazon’s decision to prioritize speed over cost has had a ripple effect on shipping policies across other industries as well. Online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores alike have had to adjust their shipping policies to mirror Amazon’s high standards.
Amazon has had a similarly large effect on refund policies. For one thing, customers are now more aware of seller behaviour. Amazon has offered seller protection to protect their customers from poor seller behaviour since the early 2000s. But while Amazon’s seller protection has helped clarify customers’ expectations of seller behaviour, Amazon Prime has had an even larger impact. Amazon’s promise of free returns has fundamentally shifted the way customers think about refunds.
The biggest change in customer expectations of shipping times that Amazon has had is in the speed of shipping times. In a 2018 survey, Amazon customers were found to expect their parcel to be delivered in three days. The same survey also revealed that Amazon customers are now more aware of shipping methods and options than they were 10 years ago. Customers expect a range of delivery options, including same-day shipping and free two-day shipping. But Amazon’s prioritization of speed has led to increased frustrations for customers on the receiving end of their shipments. Amazon’s prioritization of speed has also led to increased frustrations for delivery drivers. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reveals that the number of injuries sustained by delivery drivers has increased as Amazon’s shipments have increased.
An even more drastic change in customer expectations of product quality is the increased expectation of products arriving unbroken. Amazon customers now expect most products to arrive in their original condition. Amazon’s prioritization of speed has led the online retailer to choose cheaper shipping methods, such as using smaller shipping companies and less expensive means of transportation like the postal service. In doing so, Amazon has risked damage to the products they are shipping. The Postal Regulatory Commission reports that the number of broken packages delivered via the postal service has increased in recent years. This has led to an increase in complaints from customers, who now expect their product to arrive unbroken.
Because of the high expectations Amazon customers have of their shipments, the online retailer has become a microcosm for seller behaviour. This has led customers to expect the same level of customer service from all sellers. Customers have become more aware of seller behaviour and have started to hold the seller responsible for any errors or mishaps in their shipping practices. This heightened awareness of seller behaviour has led to an increase in customers requesting refunds from sellers. If a customer orders an item on Amazon and it arrives broken, that customer has now become accustomed to requesting a full or partial refund from the seller. The customer expects the seller to take responsibility for the broken product and has become more aware of the seller’s influence on the transaction.
Amazon has had a profound effect on shipping policies and refund policies. Amazon’s prioritization of speed has led to increased expectations of shipping times and product quality. Amazon’s prioritization of speed has also led customers to be more aware of seller behaviour and expect the same level of service from all sellers. This heightened awareness of seller behaviour has led to an increase in customers requesting refunds. Amazon’s influence on the e-commerce industry has been tremendous, but it’s also come with some growing pains. As e-commerce continues to grow, retailers and customers alike will have to adjust their strategies to keep up with Amazon. One way to adjust your refund policy is to include a delivery guarantee like ShipAid. This allows you to collect a pool of money you can use to cover your loss/damage/spoilage losses and even make a profit!