“Many Happy Returns”: The Basics and Best Practices of Return Merchandise Authorization

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Product returns are inevitable, which is why Reverse Logistics and Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) has been developed to make return management easier. Digitizing the RMA process by purchasing or commissioning an RMA app or software for you and your customers would be the most efficient way to streamline and manage the entire process for all involved.

However, it would still be best to know these basics and best practices on RMA to see if your business is practicing it correctly, and to help you determine the right RMA app for your business:

What is RMA?

Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) is the first step in the operation known as of “Reverse Logistics” (which is the practice of a customer sending an item back to the seller/manufacturer for return, repair, reuse, recycling or disposal, hence “reverse”). RMA is the process of obtaining the product, and serves two main functions: preventing improper or unverified/unqualified returns and gathering pertinent information about the return.

Benefits of RMA

Proper implementation of RMA ensures that the product returned is verified (avoiding scam returns/refunds), reduce return handling costs, provide faster service, and improve customer satisfaction. A company with good RMA (and Reverse Logistics process overall), would entice customers to spend freely, knowing that the seller has good after-sales services. Information gathered from RMA would also help prevent future returns by checking on the most common issues/reasons for returns, and minimize future costs for the seller/business.

RMA Best Practices

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Dedicated Customer Service Representative (CSR) for RMA. A seller should always have a CRS ready to help and guide the customer through the entire process. This not only ensures customer satisfaction and streamline the process, but also ensure that the returns are valid, and provide them options.

Accessible and Easy.

A lot of products nowadays are ordered online, and it should also be possible for customers to process the returns online through a website or an RMA app. The seller should also make it possible for the customer to access, fill out, and print their own return labels (which would make it easier for both parties to process and track the return). This also serves as a screening method to ensure that the product is indeed valid for return (to avoid return scams).

Give Customers Options.

It would also help if a seller would allow the customer options to exchange products. Giving them an alternative would help with customer satisfaction, and also help the seller in case the products have been phased out or are difficult to replace or repair.

Make it Easy to Monitor.

In the past, sending back a product would have customers call the seller repeatedly just to check on the status of their order. Returning a product is already an inconvenience to both parties, but if you have the option to have the customer access live updates and the status of their returns online, you’d have to deal with fewer calls and subsequently improve customer experience.

Despite the strictest of quality control, sellers will always have to deal with returns. But equipped with the basics and tips on RMA, you’d be able to ensure not only an easier tracking, verification and streamlining of the RMA process, but also improve customer satisfaction and help you to choose the right RMA app.