From shipping tips to creating a flexible return policy, eBay will help you become a shipping pro and an expert seller.
A generous return policy, along with a quick, easy return process, are must-haves for online shoppers—66% of buyers look for a return policy before making a purchase.* You’re not obligated to offer returns on the items you sell, but it’s a good way to attract more customers and encourage repeat business.
With eBay, you have the flexibility to customize how you handle returns, with options to automate the process or manually approve specific requests. With eBay returns, you can:
- Approve returns automatically or manually—it’s your choice
- Offer automatic refunds and tell the buyer to keep an item
- Choose your preferred return shipping label
- Route returns to specific addresses
- Offer replacements and exchanges
- Include RMAs and structured restocking fees
Our return process gives buyers and sellers a consistent way to return items. All return requests are initiated through My eBay, and are handled the same way. Here’s how it works:
Buyers can initiate a return request for one of two reasons: either they don’t believe they got what they ordered—a "Significantly not as described" return, or SNAD—or they’ve changed their mind about the item—a Remorse return. Learn more about the types of return below:
If a buyer wants to return an item because they’ve changed their mind, you can decide whether to accept or decline their request, provided you follow the return policy stated in your listing.
The best approach is always to work with your buyer to find a suitable solution that you’re both happy with, such as offering an exchange or a full or partial refund. Buyers who return an item can still leave feedback and detailed seller ratings. Forty-five percent of buyers who return an item will come back to make a new purchase,* so providing great customer service is a best practice.
If a buyer believes that their item is Significantly Not As Described—or SNAD—the request will fall under the eBay Money Back Guarantee process. Regardless of your return policy, in these cases, you are required to work with your buyer to find a suitable resolution. If you can’t resolve it, either you or your buyer can ask eBay to step in and help. We’ll do what we can to resolve the issue based on the information provided, including any photos of the item, and the buyer’s purchase history.
If eBay is asked to step in and help on the eBay Money Back Guarantee case and finds the seller responsible, it will be counted both as a transaction defect and as a case closed without seller resolution, and may affect your seller level.
When requesting a return on an item, buyers are asked to select a reason for their return. In cases where the item they’ve received is the wrong one or doesn’t match the description, doesn’t seem authentic, or is damaged or missing parts, the seller is responsible for return postage costs.
Here’s a closer look at the reasons buyers can give for a return, and who’s responsible for return costs:
Who pays for return shipping
|Doesn't fit||Remorse||As per seller return policy|
|Changed mind||Remorse||As per seller return policy|
|Found a better price||Remorse||As per seller return policy|
|Just didn't like it||Remorse||As per seller return policy|
|Ordered by mistake||Remorse||As per seller return policy|
|Doesn't work or defective||Not as described||Seller|
|Doesn't match description or photos||Not as described||Seller|
|Wrong item sent||Not as described||Seller|
|Missing parts or accessories||Not as described||Seller|
|Arrived damaged||Not as described||Seller|
|Doesn't seem authentic||Not as described||Seller|
If you’re responsible for the cost of the shipping label, and your preferences are set to automate any portion of the return process, including offering a replacement, a PayPal label will automatically be sent to the buyer for return shipping. If you wish to use your own label, you’ll only be able to do so in cases where you manually approve returns. This includes shipping labels and tracking information generated by third-party APIs.
If you’re not responsible for the cost of the shipping label, once you’ve approved the return request, eBay will notify the buyer and provide a link where they can purchase and print a shipping label.
Offering replacements and exchanges
A replacement is an item that’s identical to the original, and an exchange is an item that’s different from the original—for example, the same item, but in a different size or colour. Offering replacements and exchanges is a good way to resolve customer issues while maintaining the sale.
Offering replacements and exchanges is a great way to maintain a positive buying experience when there’s an issue with the original item, or when the buyer simply wants a different item. You can even allow the buyer to keep the original item in cases where you don’t want it back.
Customizing your return preferences lets you choose when you want to expedite different types of return requests by instructing eBay to process them automatically. Simply create basic or advanced rules within your return preferences in My eBay.
For example, if you always accept returns and offer refunds on clothing items that don’t fit, you can now choose to approve those specific requests and send the buyer a return label by creating a basic rule. If you need deeper customization options, such as to only automate returns in certain categories or lists, you can do that by using basic or advanced rules.
To add Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) numbers, click the RMA box that appears in your return preferences. This tells eBay that you need to include an RMA on your return shipping labels. When you receive a return request, you’ll be prompted to add your RMA number when you create a return shipping label. When the buyer prints your label, it will include your RMA number.
Remember, you can only use RMAs in cases where you’re manually approving returns, as RMAs are unique to the item and are usually issued on a case-by-case basis.
Customer service doesn’t end with the sale. You can continue to provide great customer service—and encourage repeat business—by considering the following tips:
- Research other sellers’ return policies for similar items to keep yours competitive
- High-quality photos minimize the need for a return—make listings as detailed as possible
- Review your return preferences regularly to ensure they continue to meet your business needs
- Issue prompt refunds, preferably within 2 business days
- Consider extending your return policy during the holiday season
- Limit restocking fees, as they can make shoppers less likely to buy
- Keep a valid return address on file, and remember that you can manage multiple return addresses through your return preferences
*UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Survey, 2016