Local return address on international marketplaces – necessary or not necessary?

In the face of changing consumer purchasing habits, e-commerce plays a crucial role in international retail sales. For merchants looking to enter international markets, marketplace trading platforms are an important sales channel. They have their internal mechanisms to control compliance with regulations and prevent unwanted merchant behaviors. One of the often misunderstood requirements of these platforms is having a local address for returns – meaning an address located in the country where the buyer of a particular item is situated.

A local return address on e-commerce platforms, such as the marketplace giants Amazon or eBay, can be a key element of sales strategy for many entrepreneurs. It is not required in every case, and its role in the returns process and building customer trust can vary, but due to its reach and customer reach, it can be crucial.

It’s worth taking a close look at this issue to understand in which situations a local return address can benefit the merchant.

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Sales model and marketplace requirements

Different e-commerce platforms adopt various sales models, which influence the requirements placed on merchants. In many cases, especially in models where the platform acts as an intermediary between the merchant and the buyer, there is a requirement to have a foreign return address.

Examples of platforms and their requirements

Amazon, recognized worldwide as one of the most important e-commerce platforms, recommends that merchants have a local return address in the countries where they sell.

By insisting on local return addresses, Amazon aims to streamline the returns process for customers, thereby reducing the time and complexity associated with returning products. This is intended to build trust with customers, who feel secure in returning to make purchases again.

On Amazon, you don’t always have to have a local return address, but the requirements in this regard may vary depending on the specific market and the merchant program associated with the merchant. This obligation may be influenced by whether:

  • You belong to a seller program that requires this from its participants

There are several merchant programs on Amazon, such as Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP), etc. Depending on the program you participate in, different rules regarding local return addresses may apply.

  • You sell in specific markets

The availability of local return addresses may vary depending on the market you are selling in. In some Amazon markets, local return addresses may be more popular or more required than in others.

  • Product category

Amazon’s return policy includes different regulations depending on the product category. Check the return policy for your category and country to find out if a local return address is required.

  • Product value

Amazon may require a local return address from merchants who sell higher-value products or specific types of products.

Generally, if you are selling from, for example, Poland to Germany, as a merchant you must meet one of three conditions:

  • provide a return address located in Germany,
  • provide a prepaid return label,
  • offer a full refund without returning the products.

So there is no obligation to provide a local return address. However, there is one caveat… return costs. If the customer’s address is in the same country as the merchant’s local address, the merchant may require the package to be returned at the customer’s expense. An exception is the return of products belonging to categories: clothing, jewelry, footwear. The buyer also does not bear the return costs in the local Amazon market.

However, if the merchant does not have a local return address, they will always cover the cost of the return shipment. In such a situation, if you don’t have a local address, it’s best to include a prepaid return label with the order.

On eBay, a platform that allows both international and local sales, flexibility in return options is an important element. To facilitate the returns process for buyers, eBay has introduced the option to use local return addresses in certain regions. This allows buyers to return products to an address in their own country, reducing costs and simplifying the return logistics.

Not every merchant selling cross-border to a neighboring country, for example, must have a local return address in the target market. If they declare that the goods are located outside the country’s borders, there is no obligation to provide a local return address. However, this significantly reduces the visibility of their auctions, as many users have their account settings configured to only display auctions from their own country by default.

And when the goods are marked as being located in a particular country, it is necessary to provide a local return address.

Etsy, a well-known e-commerce platform focusing on handmade, vintage, and unique items, also applies a policy regarding foreign return addresses. Etsy requires merchants with shops located outside the United States to provide a foreign return address.

The impact of a local return address on merchants

For merchants building their businesses on marketplace platforms, the necessity of having a foreign return address can pose both logistical and financial challenges. It means additional costs associated with renting or maintaining warehouse space abroad. There is the possibility of using intermediaries who, on behalf of the merchant, collect return shipments and deliver them to the main warehouse of the merchant, but delays may occur. And these, in turn, affect the reputation of the merchant, which translates into reach. Why? The customer sees the returned item delivered, but does not receive confirmation and a refund from the merchant. So they start to get nervous, write negative comments, and sometimes even report a violation to the marketplace… All of this diminishes the seller’s credibility.

The requirement of having a foreign return address by marketplaces is an important element of sales strategy in international e-commerce. For merchants, it is a challenge, but efficient handling of returns is an opportunity to build a strong position in the market.

Are you looking for a partner in cross-border activities who will solve the problem of a local return address for you?

Do you want to quickly and effectively handle customer returns delivered to foreign addresses? Global24 has been successfully managing this process for its clients for years and has developed solutions that will optimize your e-commerce logistics.

Do you need a local address to avoid paying for return shipments?

Handle virtual returns with us, where the Customer pays for the return shipment. It reaches our local warehouse, and you only pay for its delivery from that location to the specified location in Poland.

Do you sell goods for which you need to guarantee prepaid courier returns?

We will prepare return labels for you to include with orders, and you will only pay for them when the customer uses them. For them, in accordance with the platform’s regulations, the return will be free.

Let’s talk about how else we can support your e-commerce.


    Global24 Team



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