The $1 fee could just be a way to discourage returns. The word “free” has a great influence on the human mind – that far outweighs the actual value of the thing that is offered free.
But there could be a lot more to this, than just that.
Returns are messy – retailers have always struggled with it. Processing it can be expensive as they have to handle damaged merchandise and the cost of shipping and replacing items. Most companies don’t offer free returns hoping to dissuade and make it less easy for customers.
But Amazon has always gone the other way – free returns even if they knew people would be sending things back constantly.
So what changed?
Could it be a drop in sales / volumes?
The pandemic certainly saw all the e-commerce brands thrive as everyone shopped online. E-commerce brands absorbed all the shipping costs and offered free shipping and returns as incentives to drive growth and adoption. Now that things are back to normal, volumes are dropping. Less sales. So the gloves are coming off and they charge to make up for the dip in sales.
Amazon has done this before. After offering free delivery of stuff from Whole Foods to Prime members, Amazon started charging $10 for it in 2021.
That is a great strategy – first you offer something free of charge – and once you have your customer hooked on to it, you charge.
But truth be told – just a cursory glance around will show you that other brands charge way more for returns.
So the $1 fee could be a way to drive customers to drop their returns off at an Amazon / Amazon-related facility.