What is an RMA? All about the Return Merchandise Authorization

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✨ Post actualizado el 01/02/2024 por David Costarrosa

What is an RMA?

An RMA is an authorization to return merchandise. 

The process is done through a reference number that is linked to the return of a product.

With this reference number, you can identify and track the status of your return at all times until it arrives at the warehouse.

Now, you should be aware that the return of a product is a crucial issue in the logistics process.

Mainly because it is often disputed, sometimes unclear and generally causes anger and annoyance on the part of the buyer.

To be honest, nobody likes to have to return a product they have bought for any reason whatsoever.

In this respect, the SaleCycle blog states that 1 in 5 ecommerce orders are returned by the customer.

In order to shed light on this issue, as an Ecommerce fulfillment specialist, at Beeping we know that the reverse logistics process begins with one step: the Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA).

The RMA is the first step in the process of returning a product to an ecommerce store for the purpose of receiving a refund, replacement or repair.

At this point, it will be up to the customer and the ecommerce company to agree on which of these applies to each particular case.

The RMA plays a very important role in ecommerce and in the reverse logistics cycle:

  • It allows the ecommerce company to understand the buyer’s problem.
  • It gives the logistics warehouse the tools to be able to solve that problem in the future.
  • It establishes the necessary guidelines so that the reverse logistics process does not pose any obstacles and can be carried out in its natural cycle.

In this article we will discuss the entire ecommerce RMA process in detail so that you can have a clear vision of one of the lesser known topics in the area of product logistics.

RMA process in ecommerce

As we mentioned above, the RMA is a fundamental part of the whole customer returns management process.

Implementing this process properly can mark a turning point in the ecommerce store-customer relationship and even change, drastically, the reputation of your store.

Steps to follow for RMA implementation

  1. Establish internally and through the returns policy which items may be eligible for consideration in the process either because they are defective, damaged or because they do not meet the customer’s expectations.
  2. Submission of the RMA request by the customer. At this point it is important that the customer is clear that they must be specific about the condition of the item and the reason for the return.
  3. Once the request is received, confirm that it meets the specifications set out in point 1.
  4. In case the request is valid, assign an RMA number that from now on will be unique for that customer to track the case.
  5. If the customer has to return the product, coordinate with the logistics team whether it is a return and then refund or a product exchange.
  6. Once the product is received, verify the conditions of the product and, if pertinent, refund the money.

Key aspects to consider in the RMA process

The RMA process has several aspects to consider.

Some of them, such as the Returns Policy, must be clearly specified and accessible within the store’s website.

There you should make clear what criteria your store will take into account to accept the return of items and the deadlines for requesting the return.

Communication is also an important point. You have to be as clear as possible to avoid confusion with the customer.

On the other hand, it is your duty to ensure Data Protection and the customer’s financial data during the whole RMA process.

Finally, you must ensure that the entire logistics process is carried out efficiently so that the timeframes established in the company’s policies are respected.

Benefits of RMA for online store owners

One of the key benefits will be to improve the store’s brand confidence and reputation.

It is true that the reverse logistics process in itself is not pleasant, but if it is done with commitment and in compliance with your policies, you can demonstrate your professionalism and guarantee customer satisfaction even in the face of an initial adverse scenario.

RMA: Software, transportation and tracking

The entire RMA process is based on these 3 pillars: software, transportation and tracking.

💻 Software

This is the interface through which you will be able to manage and review the status of each of the requests.

Among its most important features is the ability to see the status of each label in real time.

Among the options available on the market, Renewity is an attractive solution for incorporating this system into your ecommerce business.

Among its main features we can highlight:

  • 100% configurable.
  • Capable of handling several RMA processes simultaneously.
  • Free license

The price starts at $299 per month and has the endorsement of companies such as Panasonic and Simco that already use this software.

Another option is the company 12return, which describes itself as “A Tech-powered return service for cross-border commerce”.

Companies such as Phillips, Duux and fatboy have relied on their services.

There are no fees listed in their presentation, but they offer the option “Discuss your challenges” to assess the customer through a video call and then look for the best service option.

As a third option, Service Central “helps manage item returns for both businesses (B2B) and consumers (B2C)”.

🚚 Transportation

Choosing the right transport company can be a watershed moment in a successful RMA process.

At Beeping we have an exclusive reverse logistics service in which we take care of the entire return process, checking the product and subsequent refund to the customer, if required.

In addition, we also refurbish the item so that it can be returned to stock.

Here we again highlight the importance of having clear returns policies that do not lend themselves to misinterpretation, but allow the entire RMA process to be carried out within normality.

📍 Tracking

This section is the one that brings this trilogy together, as it is closely related to the previous two. 

To track an RMA label we need software and a transportation company to handle it.

It is very important that every single movement is clearly reported to the customer with regular updates via SMS or email.

This process should include detailed information in real time to reduce the possibility of disputes or complaints.

The returns policy and its impact on the RMA

The importance of a clear and effective returns policy

At Beeping, we recover and refurbish 90% of returned items so that they can be reallocated within the warehouse and returned to the customer’s stock.

This achievement is made possible thanks to a clear returns policy and the hard work of the company’s entire logistics team.

It is unquestionable that a large part of the success of the RMA process is based on clear returns policies with specific information about what kind of items can be returned and under what circumstances.

Tailoring your returns policy to your business needs

When it comes to returns policies, we can’t fail to mention Amazon.

The American giant has transformed this entire process and offers the user a very clear and friendly interface that has become one of the pillars of the platform’s success.

In fact, many ecommerce companies have had to reformulate their own policies in order to adapt to what Amazon offers.

It is true that it is necessary to adapt the policy to each business, since returning a simple shower curtain rod is not the same as returning a customized product or a much larger one.

In our article “Avoid problems with the returns policy of your online store” you will find all the information you need to get it right.

Please note that according to the Spanish Government Administration, the customer has 14 calendar days to return a product.

The relationship between the returns policy and customer satisfaction

Talking about customer satisfaction in the scope of a product return may sound strange, but if we take into account what Shopify comments in its article “How to implement a returns policy in an ecommerce business”, everything makes much more sense.

68% of shoppers read a website’s return and exchange policy before making a purchase…”.

If we take this statistic into account, we know that there are many customers who already know how to return a product even before buying from the store.

And that is precisely why if you comply with the established policies, their level of satisfaction will increase in case they have to return the product they have purchased.

Automation of returns and its relationship with the RMA

At this point and with all the information we have given you, you will know that efficiently managing product returns can be very beneficial for your ecommerce business.

That’s why we are going to leave you here a table with 3 important points regarding this:

Benefits of automating the returns processTools and solutions to automate returnsHow RMA automation improves customer experience

  • Improves return time efficiency.

  • Reduces customer dissatisfaction.

  • Streamlines the product logistics process.

  • Improves accuracy and reduces errors in the logistics process.

Management software, such as Renewity, is the most efficient way to carry out the whole process.
With this type of tool you can adapt its different functionalities to the needs of your store and control the status of each of the requests in real time.
For example, automatic generation of return labels or even integration with other inventory systems.
The easier the better.
The customer will greatly appreciate that in the event of any concern or inconvenience they can count on a clear policy and a returns automation process that is efficient, convenient and secure.

RMA label and form: key components of the RMA process

The RMA label and form are part of the backbone of the process. That is why in this section we are going to focus on each of them.

The purpose and importance of the RMA form

The RMA form is the first step in the product return process.

Its importance lies in learning the reason for the return from the customer.

Thanks to this information, you can identify the points on which you will have to focus your attention to improve the user experience in your ecommerce business.

Want to know how to create a returns form for your store?

I show you quickly and easily in this Instagram post how to structure it and which elements can’t be missed.

🔥 FREE downloadable resource 🔥

At Beeping we have a sample form that we use with our customers. Download it for FREE and use it in your store!

The purpose and importance of the RMA label

The importance of the RMA label lies in identifying and tracking each return efficiently.

It is important for the shipping label to already include an RMA number so that the customer does not need to take any further action.

This will be another reason why the reputation and image of your store will have a very positive impact on the user.

Tips and best practices for RMA management

In this section I will leave you with some tips that you should keep in mind to improve the user experience in this process.

  • Make sure that the form is available on your website not only within the returns policy but also in a specific section of the store so that the customer can access it quickly.
  • It is important for the label to be clear and contain all the necessary information so that the user has to spend as little time as possible completing the return process.
  • Include a specific section in which you explain the whole RMA process step by step.
  • Make sure that your company’s staff is trained to resolve each incident and is fully aware of the returns policy of your ecommerce business.
  • Optimize the entire procedure so that the only goal is customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

So far we have reviewed one by one all the key points so that you can efficiently manage the entire RMA process of a product.

As we have mentioned, this process can be a very important weapon for your store to improve its reputation and customer satisfaction, so you should definitely treat it with care.

Remember to have a software with which you can manage and control each of the labels.

On the other hand, train your staff and remember that the ultimate goal is to achieve the highest possible customer satisfaction.

Also, remember that Beeping includes the reverse logistics service and can help you deal with incidents of this kind.

In short, the RMA process can become an ally and one of the pillars to considerably improve the user experience in your ecommerce business.

Contenidos 📋
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