What Does Amazon Do With Returns In 2022? (The Complete Insider‘s Guide)

Hey there! Have you ever wondered exactly what happens when you return an item to Amazon? With millions of packages coming back to Amazon each year, they‘ve got to have an efficient system for handling all those returns.

In this detailed guide, I‘ll give you an insider‘s look at Amazon‘s entire return and liquidation process. You‘ll learn where your returns go, how they are processed, why Amazon liquidates so many, and even get tips on scoring discounted items.

Let‘s dive in and satisfy your curiosity about what goes on behind the scenes with Amazon returns!

A Look Inside Amazon‘s Massive Return Operations

To understand what happens to returned products, you first need to grasp the enormous scale of Amazon‘s return volume.

In 2021 alone:

  • Amazon sold over 3.9 billion items worldwide
  • Up to 30% of merchandise purchased online is returned by shoppers
  • That means over 1 billion packages were likely returned to Amazon!

Handling so many returns is daunting. That‘s why Amazon has invested heavily in developing efficient returns infrastructure:

  • 100+ fulfillment centers in North America handle returns
  • Returned items are quickly sorted and evaluated
  • Many products are repackaged for resale in days
  • Special deals send returns to liquidators for instant bulk resale

Thanks to this system, your Amazon returns are rapidly processed and redirected to a new home!

Now let‘s walk through exactly what happens step-by-step after you drop off a return package…

The Journey of an Amazon Return

When you request a return on Amazon, you‘re provided a return shipping label. Just box up the item, attach the label, and ship it.

Your package will arrive at one of Amazon‘s fulfillment centers, likely the nearest one to you. Here is the full journey:

  1. Arrival – Your return is immediately checked in and scanned at the loading dock.

  2. Evaluation – Workers open your package and thoroughly examine the returned item. Its condition is assessed to determine the best route.

  3. Testing – Electronics, appliances and other items are powered on and evaluated to verify they still function properly. Defective items are set aside.

  4. Sorting – Based on testing and inspection, returns are sorted to be repackaged, liquidated, donated, or disposed of.

  5. Repackaging – Many gently used items are reboxed to be resold as open-box or warehouse deals.

  6. Palletizing – Unsellable or bulk items are loaded onto pallets and shipped to liquidators.

  7. Distribution – Some returns may be donated to charity or recycled if severely damaged.

  8. Resale – Repackaged returns head to Amazon Warehouse deals. Liquidated pallets are sold to resellers.

Within days, your return is processed, redirected, and ready for its next life!

Now let‘s look closer at the different resale routes for Amazon returns…

Where Do Amazon Returns Actually Go?

There are three main paths returned merchandise can take once received at an Amazon warehouse:

1. Resold on Amazon Warehouse

If a returned item is in like-new condition or only slightly used, Amazon will relist it for individual resale on Amazon Warehouse Deals.

  • Amazon Warehouse offers discounts of up to 20% on used, open-box, or refurbished products directly through Amazon‘s marketplace.

  • Returned items listed on Amazon Warehouse are rigorously inspected and graded based on condition:

    • Like New – Unused with minor packaging defects

    • Very Good – Lightly used with minimal wear

    • Good – Moderate use showing limited signs of wear

    • Acceptable – Heavy use but functional and clean

  • By reselling quality returns individually, Amazon reduces waste and gives items renewed life.

2. Sold to Liquidators in Bulk

Returns that are defective, damaged, or in poor condition are not worthwhile for Amazon to resell individually.

  • These types of returns are palletized together along with other unsellable merchandise.

  • Giant pallets of bulk returns are then sold directly to liquidators and wholesalers.

  • Liquidators buy the pallets for extremely low prices, often just pennies on the dollar.

  • They relist the salvageable goods from the mixed pallets on their own discount sites.

3. Donated or Recycled

For returned items severely damaged or unsafe to resell, Amazon disposes through donation or recycling.

  • Amazon has a partnership with Good360 to donate returned goods to charities.

  • Goods unfit for charity or resale are recycled through dedicated Amazon programs.

  • Recycling ensures returned products don‘t end up in landfills.

Now let‘s explore why Amazon chooses to liquidate so many returns…

Why Amazon Chooses to Liquidate Returns

With millions of returns pouring into Amazon fulfillment centers every year, you may wonder why so many get liquidated in bulk rather than resold directly by Amazon.

There are five compelling reasons why liquidating returns makes sense for Amazon:

1. Labor Savings

Checking, testing, cleaning, and repackaging every single return would require an enormous workforce. It‘s far more efficient to liquidate in bulk.

2. Warehouse Space Savings

Amazon‘s warehouses are already tight on space for inventory storage. Getting returns offsite quickly frees up precious room for active product listings.

3. Speed

An individual quality control and resale process would slow down Amazon‘s core order fulfillment operations. Bulk liquidation accelerates moving returns out of the warehouse.

4. Liquidation Expertise

Liquidators specialize in reselling. Letting them handle it allows Amazon to focus resources on its retail business.

5. Economy of Scale

By combining returns from multiple major retailers, liquidators consolidate demand. This makes buying truckloads of pallets worthwhile for resellers.

Liquidation provides huge advantages in efficiency and speed for Amazon‘s returns management.

What Types of Items Get Returned to Amazon?

Almost any product sold on Amazon could come back as a return. But some categories see much higher return rates than others.

According to Amazon, these product categories have the most returns:

Category Return Rate
Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry 30%
Cell Phones & Accessories 20%
Computers 18%
Home & Kitchen 15%
Consumer Electronics 13%
Garden & Outdoor 13%
Office Products 12%
Beauty & Grooming 12%

Clothing and shoes see the most returns due to fit and sizing issues. But almost anything bought on Amazon could come back opened or damaged.

When purchasing Amazon liquidation pallets, expect a totally random mix of returned merchandise across all categories!

Are Amazon Liquidation Pallets Worth Buying?

Now you may be wondering – with so much uncertainty, are Amazon liquidation pallets really worth buying?

The Potential Advantages:

  • Ultra-low pricing – often 90% off retail value
  • Resellable brand name merchandise
  • Electronics can often be revived
  • Satisfaction from finding hidden gems

The Potential Risks:

  • Items may be defective or damaged
  • No way to verify exact contents
  • Needs ample space and time for sorting
  • Profitability varies widely between pallets

Here are some tips to maximize your chances of scoring big:

  • Inspect Photos – Look for visible products you can resell easily.

  • Understand Categories – Beauty products are safer than untested electronics.

  • Start Small – Try a low-cost pallet first to test profit potential.

  • Have Realistic Expectations – The lowest prices means more work sorting.

While it takes effort to sort through liquidated Amazon returns, the savings can be incredible. Just go in with eyes wide open!

Can You Buy Unclaimed Amazon Packages?

Occasionally, an Amazon order gets shipped but never makes it to the waiting customer. These unclaimed Amazon packages go back up for sale in a very limited way.

  • When a package is undeliverable, it‘s returned to Amazon as an unclaimed package.

  • The original buyer gets refunded, but the package contents remain untouched.

  • Sellers can authorize Amazon to relist unclaimed packages, or they‘re liquidated.

  • Some liquidators get access to pallets of unclaimed Amazon packages.

The pros of unclaimed packages:

  • Brand new, unopened condition
  • Full retail value merchandise
  • Untouched electronics and toys

The cons:

  • No seller approval means reselling is prohibited
  • Just as unpredictable as other liquidation sources

While unclaimed Amazon packages offer intrigue for buyers hoping to score untouched goods, legitimacy is a major concern without seller approval guiding the resale.

Does Amazon Resell Opened Items?

If you‘re wary of buying liquidated Amazon returns, you may wonder if Amazon ever resells open-box items directly to shoppers.

The answer is yes – Amazon has an entire marketplace called Amazon Warehouse filled with discounted open-box and used products:

  • Returned items in like-new condition get listed on Amazon Warehouse

  • Everything is certified by Amazon to work perfectly

  • Savings range from 15-40% off compared to new

  • Amazon Warehouse has a 90-day return policy for peace of mind

So while liquidated pallets involve some risk, you can score Amazon deals with confidence on Warehouse items fulfilled directly by Amazon.

Next let‘s examine the environmental impact of Amazon‘s returns…

The Environmental Impact of Amazon Returns

With millions of Amazon packages returned every year, it‘s natural to question what impact that has on the planet.

Here are some of the environmental pros:

  • Reselling – Giving used goods new life saves resources used to manufacture brand new items.

  • Recycling – Amazon recycles all returns that are unfit to resell or donate, keeping them out of landfills.

  • Eco-friendly Packaging – Amazon works to reduce packaging waste and increase use of recycled materials.

And some of the environmental cons:

  • Transportation Emissions – All those return shipments burn fossil fuels and emit CO2 during transit.

  • Warehouse Energy – Amazon warehouses use massive amounts of electricity.

  • Excess Packaging – Not all packaging gets recycled; some ends up as waste.

  • Landfill Waste – Despite recycling efforts, some returned goods still get tossed.

Overall, Amazon does offset environmental impact through reuse and recycling initiatives. But the scale of returns makes some ecological consequences inevitable.

The Bottom Line – What Really Happens to Your Amazon Returns?

Now that you‘ve got all the insider details, let‘s summarize what truly happens when you return an Amazon order:

  • Your package will travel to the nearest Amazon warehouse where it will be quickly processed.

  • Returns are evaluated for resale potential, with many quality items repackaged for Amazon Warehouse.

  • Unwanted or defective goods get palletized with other returns to be sold to liquidators in bulk.

  • A small percentage of returns may be donated or recycled if unfit for resale.

  • Within days, your return finds a new home – either with another happy customer, a discount reseller, or through environmentally-friendly disposal.

So while your specific return may wind up anywhere, rest assured Amazon has an efficient system to give every item a second chance!

Key Takeaways: Where Do Amazon Returns Go

  • Popular liquidators like Liquidation.com purchase and resell pallets of Amazon returns.

  • Lightly used returns get resold by Amazon itself on Amazon Warehouse Deals.

  • Buying liquidated Amazon pallets can provide big savings but has risks to weigh.

  • Unclaimed Amazon packages offer untouched goods but legitimacy concerns exist.

  • Donations and recycling ensure minimal waste from damaged returns.

Now you can shop on Amazon knowing exactly what goes on behind the scenes when that return label gets slapped on your unwanted item!

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