Long time Matt Watchers will know that I’m a huge fan of Amazon – and I realise for some people their business methods are problematic, but sometimes when we’re building our businesses it can be worth looking at how very large companies solve problems, even though we’ll never end up operating at their scale.

When you’re on Amazon, about six months ago they made a change on their UI flow that looks after customer returns. Specifically, there’s a drop-down where you have to choose why you’re returning something – one option being “performance or quality not adequate”.

Back in the day, when you selected this option, you didn’t have to specify a reason, but they changed this so that you now do.

And every time since then when I’ve been on that page I’ve wondered, just how many returns did that simple question change stop? Like being asked just that one question – and you can put anything in there, I just put “bad” as a single word – how many products did they not have to buy back.

This is a great example of a UX change having prima facie benefits to the company by adding friction. Usually we get benefit by reducing friction, but in this instance, not so much.