RMA’s Benefits and Best Practices – Part II

Companies secure the ability to perform returns for customers with tracking and monitoring via Return merchandise authorizations (RMAs). These procedures ultimately exist to offer a seamless process to buyers in a cost-effective way for the seller. RMA procedures aren’t created equal and understanding the benefits and best practices for your RMA is key. Avoid losing time, money, and labor from unauthorized, lengthy return processes by implementing your own RMA procedures effectively.

RMA Procedure Benefits

RMA procedure benefits allow your company to refocus on production instead of returns by speeding up the returns process for heightened buyer satisfaction. This encourages buyers to spend freely knowing you will work to ensure their satisfaction after the sale.

Pre-authorized returns or returns which have passed your RMA procedures in your system will pave the way for return acceptance, buyer accounts credits, and determination of arriving merchandise handling. Invalid returns are weeded out by the RMA procedure and return period exceptions are offered as well to keep your business thriving.

RMA Best Practices

Your business may have RMA procedures in place, but to really get the most out of your RMA procedure, implementation is key. Each procedure has a wide range of advantages and effectiveness. Some are so simple you only ask that return items include a receipt. Full implementation can go well beyond the simple when automatic recognition of an item’s serial number works within your computer system to create a return label and schedule a return item’s pickup at the buyer’s door. When full implementation achieves these goals, companies significantly reduce their return handling costs. This simplified example is just one RMA best practice. We explore more RMA best practices; all possible for inclusion in your business procedures and physical return handling.


RMA Procedure

Separate Accounting and Physical Process

Be certain to differentiate amongst return items as to why they are being returned (credit, refund, other). Return item needs often vary beyond simple replacement such as processing for extraction of recyclable metals. By making a distinction, you will reduce RMA errors throughout the arrival process.

Disperse Return Monitoring

Wise companies employ automations rather physical staff when assigning merchandise return credits in the warehouse. Workers can then monitor warehouse inventory and appropriately reroute items should any RMA information capture errors occur.

Quality Controls

Buyer item returns have a multitude of reasons from unsatisfactory sizing, age, color, or simple buyer’s remorse. A buyer’s item return rationale doesn’t trump the actual condition of the item, however. Workers processing a RMA claim must understand the why behind the return, particularly for units returned for full customer credit. That knowledge decides the next step to take such as issuing credit for a future purchase, exchanges or selecting a replacement part. Workers in the return center should also know how the item’s quality affects its lifecycle to determine when disposal of irreparable items or repackaging of intact units is warranted.

Expecting RMA-Merchandise in Advance

Whenever RMA’s are approved, especially by automation, your receiving facility should prepare in anticipation of its arrival. One example is ensuring RFID chip tagged units’ information is entered into the system prior to merchandise arrival to prevent errors and unit loss.

Necessary RMA Procedure Equipment

RMA best practices refer to the steps behind accepting an RMA and processing. However, the physical handling of the return is often completed through the use of certain key equipment and management systems. Take a look at how this equipment expedites the RMA procedure:

Handheld Scanners

When receiving facilities accept several truckloads of return units at a time, it becomes critical to use handheld scanners instead of writing down the ID numbers for returns by hand. These handheld scanners or automated scanning systems will dramatically reduce employee hours confirming receipt of return units. The significant role scanners play is further detailed following two aspects of the physical RMA processing world.

Warehouse Management System Interface

Item arrival should automatically trigger the subsequent events for the facilities warehouse management system. For example, computer part A arrives due to being the wrong color. The WMS should identify this item as available, and the item needs to be stocked on the floor. Alternatively, if the item needs to go for repairs, the WMS should send the item to the appropriate pallet, loading dock, or repair area.

Accounting System Interface

In close relation to the WMS-interface, the arrival of a return should automatically trigger a response from the accounting system. For example, upon arrival, the consumer receives their requested credit on their account.


The whole RMA process and best practices should focus on achieving three things: make it easy and fast, make buyers happy, and pawn off the process by employing a 3PL to help you reduce your expenses in the returns process.