Amazon on Wednesday announced it is offering customers at least one free return option on millions of items such as electronics, pet supplies, household items, kitchen supplies, shoes and clothing.
Amazon will offer label-free and box-free returns for select purchases at more than 5,800 locations, an effort which it says will limit the amount of packaging used in returns and reduce pickups for drivers. The move is part of the company's effort to become more environmentally sustainable overall, per the company statement.
The company also reiterated that it has been engaging in partnerships to simplify returns, such as its with UPS and Kohl's. Customers can also return eligible products via its physical Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star stores, select Whole Foods, and Amazon Hub locations.
Amazon's attempt to position itself as an environmentally sustainable option for consumers comes after the online retail giant has faced criticism over how its operations may be harmful to the environment and potentially put workers and everyday citizens at risk. Though Amazon and UPS have each developed their own approaches to sustainability, it's worth noting that Amazon's Logistics parcel volume is predicted to outpace UPS and FedEx by 2022, according to a Morgan Stanley analysis.
Over the course of this year, the online retail giant has partnered with Stein Mart to introduce Amazon lockers. Plus, the Kohl's partnership, which allows consumers to return Amazon purchases at Kohl's physical stores, appears to be driving store visitorship and sales.
Oracle Retail research indicates that 77% of shoppers are returning some of their holiday gifts this season. Another Oracle report found that 57% of consumers think returns are a hassle, compared to 57% of retailers who think returns are "very easy." What are consumers' top reasons for returns? For 34% of Amazon users and 46% of customers at other retailers, the main reason for returning products is that they are the wrong size, fit or color, per a report from Navar.
"At Amazon, we're constantly innovating on the customer experience – not only when purchasing an item, but also making a return," Libby Johnson McKee, director of Amazon WW Returns and ReCommerce, said in a statement. "With free returns on millions of items, customers don't need to worry if the keyboard they ordered doesn't feel quite right or if their dog likes his new bed. They can buy with confidence, knowing they'll be able to return it for free with just a few easy clicks."