We work hard to make it easy for customers to find and discover products by providing a powerful search experience alongside helpful information because we want them to love their purchases. They usually do, but just like any retailer, sometimes customers want to return something that they purchased from us. And when that happens, our mission at Amazon is to give it a second life. Here is an inside look at what happens after a customer drops off their item for a return, and how Amazon works to maximize reuse and minimize waste.

Step 1: Free product and customer support

A person holds a smartphone with the Amazon app opened to a product return page.

We understand customers can spend a lot of time making purchase decisions, and we’re committed to helping them find the right product for their needs. That’s why we launched features such as the “Frequently returned item” and “Frequently kept item” badges, and programs like Virtual Try-On for shoes and eyewear.

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We also offer free product support to customers once an item is purchased, helping with product setup, product use, or troubleshooting issues. Depending on the product, customers can call or chat with Amazon customer support, access manufacturer contact details, view step-by-step troubleshooting instructions, coordinate the replacement of missing or broken parts, or find other support. These options can be accessed for eligible items through the Your Orders page by clicking Get Product Support. If customers still aren’t satisfied with the item, they can get replacements or exchanges on eligible products.

Step 2: Return dropped off

An Amazon return kiosk.
An Amazon return kiosk located at many Whole Foods Market store locations in the U.S.

If a customer decides to return an item, Amazon offers more than 8,000 drop-off locations in the U.S. Four out of five customers have a return drop-off point within a 5-mile radius of their home. These locations include Amazon’s physical stores such as Whole Foods Market, Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Go, as well as partners including Staples, Kohl’s, and The UPS Store.

To make these returns even more convenient for customers, we’ve designed a system that helps minimize the need for additional shipping boxes—eligible items can be dropped off in the original manufacturer’s packaging. Many Whole Foods Market store locations in the U.S. also include Amazon returns kiosks, which enable customers to complete their returns in 60 seconds or less. We understand that customers like to receive their refunds quickly after returning products, so we’ve worked hard to ensure that approximately 90% of eligible refunds are now issued within five hours.

Step 3: Returned items sent to Amazon facilities

A close-up image of an Amazon box with a sticker on it.

An item dropped off for return is consolidated with other returned items and routed to an Amazon return center. Amazon return centers are dedicated sites to process different types of products, such as clothing, electronics, or furniture and appliances.

Step 4: Amazon inspects returned items

An Amazon employee holds a returned product.

Each item at an Amazon return center is carefully inspected and evaluated to determine if it meets Amazon’s high bar to be re-listed for sale. First, we evaluate all sides of the manufacturer’s packaging to identify any damage or broken seals. Then, we evaluate the item inside the packaging, confirm the item matches the description, check for any signs of use, and assess any product damage.

Depending on the condition of the returned item, there are several paths it can take. The vast majority of returns are resold as new or used, returned to selling partners, liquidated, or donated. If an item doesn’t meet Amazon’s high standards to be put back on the virtual shelf and sold as new, it might qualify to be sold at a reduced price through Amazon Warehouse. With all the benefits of Amazon delivery, customer service, and convenient returns, Amazon Warehouse offers customers great deals on quality used, pre-owned, or open box products.

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Before an item can be sold in Amazon Warehouse, we conduct a second inspection, thoroughly testing the condition of each item and providing a detailed description of its condition to make it easier for customers to make a more informed decision. For electronic items, we will power on, test, and factory-reset as part of the evaluation. Based on the quality check, each item will be assigned one of four listing conditions: “Like New,” “Very Good,” “Good,” or “Acceptable.” Customers can find these offers via the Amazon Warehouse storefront, search bar, or product detail pages.

The Amazon Warehouse storefront
The Amazon Warehouse storefront.

For items that do not meet Amazon’s high bar for sale in our stores, we work with specialty vendors to repair some returned items (like a TV or laptop) so that they can be liquidated. In our most recent Sustainability Report, we shared that more than 7.6 million products were repaired in the U.S. and Europe through repair partners in 2022.

Step 5: Items find a second life through donations

A sticker is placed on to a box filled with Amazon returns that will get a second life.

Sometimes products can’t be resold for a variety of reasons, like damaged packaging, but they still have plenty of life left. In these cases, items may be donated to families and individuals in need through our nonprofit partner Good360. Through this partnership, Amazon donates items to more than 700 nonprofits in the U.S. Donated items include household appliances, tools, school supplies, electronics, and clothing. In the past five years, Good360 and Amazon have positively impacted more than 30 million people in the U.S.

An image of a woman putting items inside Amazon boxes in a fulfillment center.

When we’re unable to resell, return to selling partners, liquidate or donate products, we pursue recycling options where possible. Learn more about Amazon’s commitment to minimizing waste, increasing recycling, and providing options for customers and sellers to reuse, repair, and recycle their products in our Sustainability Report.

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