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(Last Updated On: February 6, 2019)

What are FBA Returns?

Amazon’s own fulfilment service is a dream for ecommerce sellers. It gives people the opportunity to build an automated empire. After you’ve packed it in a box with some other products, you sit back and wait for it to sell. Once it does, Amazon does its thing and makes sure the customer gets their goods.

Leaning on their resources means you save absolutely loads of time, brainpower, and means you don’t need to figure out how to store hundreds of units of products in your home before someone makes a purchase. If you’re taking Amazon seriously, you’re probably selling hundreds (and possibly even thousands) of units each month. You’d need a warehouse-sized space to manage all of that.

It’s a magical process and you can forget that real people are receiving your goods at the other end. You’re only ever brought back toreality when Amazon alerts you that they’re in possession of some of your unfulfillable inventory. Unfulfillable inventory just means stock that doesn’t match the condition you want to send it as. It may be damaged on arrival,damaged in transit or – as it is in most cases – the result of a return.

Returns clearly cost you money and we would much rather avoid them altogether, but they’re an unavoidable part of ecommerce. Once you get goods that aren’t in the new condition they once were, you need to make sure you at least get a little cash out of your stock. Here’s what you should consider doing:

Resend to Amazon

Why not just send it right back where it came from? For most of the things that Amazon allows you to sell, you have the ability to sell them in both new and used condition. Depending on what you have, you may be able to price your things at approximately the same price as it was when new. If you have to take a big hit by selling it extra cheap, at least it fits in with your usual Amazon shipment process, and it will give you a little extra cash once it sells.

Make sure you check Keepa to see whether there’s a market for a used version of whatever you sell before you send it in. Non-selling FBA products are just as bad as stock that sits in your home and aren’t listed for sale anywhere.

Explore Alternative Marketplaces

eBay, Gumtree and Depop really come in handy at times like this. Selling on Amazon makes you feel as though no other marketplace is any good, but there are plenty of online shoppers that avoid Amazon at all costs. Some think that Amazon is too expensive, too overwhelming, or just evil. Whatever the reason is, you’re opening yourself up to completely new people.

Bear in mind that these people are more likely to be looking for a bargain, so price competitively, but I find that I have a lot more success with second-hand goods on eBay and Gumtree than I do on Amazon. It depends entirely on the category of product and potentially your current feedback on those marketplaces, but don’t miss them out.

Don’t Forget Boot Sales

I’ve got a feeling that you’re not going to be too thrilled about doing one of these, but boot sales are sure-fire ways to get rid of a lot of gear quickly. If you’ve built up a load of returns over the months and haven’t done anything with them, you’re probably not that bothered about how much money you can get out of it now. Once summer swings by, declutter with an Amazon returns sell off at a boot sale.

Boot sales demand knock-down prices, so don’t expect to get anything like the sale price you were going to get, but as long as you’re pricing well, you should be able to leave with a fair chunk of cash by the afternoon.

Drop Them Off at the Charity Shop

Judge it for yourself. Once you’ve weighed up all the options, the most profitable choice may actually be to ditch the selling idea altogether. Think about the time at stake here and do what you think is best.

If you think you can make some decent cash by heading to another marketplace, blitzing through all the cost in one go at a boot sale or just giving it a go in used condition on Amazon, try it. If you really think that you’re wasting your time, divide what you have up and give them to friends and family, and drop the rest at a charity shop of your choice.


27 / Nottingham, UK. Trying these things since 2007. Writing about these things since 2014. Doing this full-time since 2018.