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For Amazon, India sees highest product returns
The Economic Times, November 05, 2018


BENGALURU: Amazon gets more product returns in India than in any of the 17 markets where it operates, a senior company executive said. One reason for the returns is counterfeit products, which is the case globally, said Dharmesh Mehta, vice-president for consumer and brand protection at Amazon, without elaborating on why else India gets the highest returns.

Experts said the wider prevalence of cash on delivery and logistical challenges in the smaller towns of India were the main reasons for higher product returns in the country.

“Product return to origin is higher in tier-2 and beyond due to lower share of prepaid payments and challenges for logistics companies in locating the right addresses,” said Ujjwal Chaudhry, engagement manager at Redseer Consulting.

A recent Redseer report highlighted that product returns and cancellations amounted to as much as 30% of the gross merchandise value. The ecommerce sector has been the source of the largest number of complaints on the National Consumer Helpline among all sectors over the past year.

Mehta said Amazon deploys machine learning-based and automated tools to thwart counterfeit products and will likely bring to India the capability to allow users and sellers to scan a manufacturer’s code through a mobile application to check for authenticity.

“Counterfeit is a concern everywhere and Amazon has been proactive in addressing it through ML, vetting, several tools as well as partnering with law enforcement authorities and governments,” Mehta said.

The company introduced a ‘transparency’ tool in the US six months ago, which lets company staff, sellers and customers scan the unique code on each product to check for authenticity. Mehta said it will be introduced in other markets, including India, but did not specify a timeline.

Another measure is a brand registry, which itemises company catalogues to ensure that only original products are listed.

In India, 5,000 brands have been registered, said Gopal Pillai, director of seller services at Amazon India. “The company is very serious about fighting counterfeit. 99.5% of page views on Amazon are not reported to be counterfeit,” Pillai said.

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