Optimize the Return and Exchange Process in Your Online Store. Integration of a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) Management System

12.10.2023

Time to read: 13 minutes

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Категории: Magento Extensions
Optimize the Return and Exchange Process in Your Online Store. Integration of a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) Management System

Today, users have high expectations when it comes to returning their orders. They want the process to be as easy and intuitive as the order itself in your online store. B2C customers appreciate the digitization of the return and exchange process, providing them with a seamless and quick "workflow" - a sequence of steps to follow and easily initiate a request.RMA can also be useful for B2B customers who are not subject to the mandatory 14-day return period for products as required by law. They have the option to submit requests for the return of goods in cases where they are defective.

We share interesting statistical data:

  • In 2022, around 16.5% of all online purchased goods were returned to online merchants.
  • The average percentage of returns in e-commerce varies between 20% and 30%, according to Statista.
  • In 2022, the value of returned goods was over $816 billion, according to the National Retail Federation's data. (NRF)

In this article, we will explain why implementing an RMA system is crucial to being successful online merchants and how our team of specialists at Stenik can assist you in this process.

What is RMA?

RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) is the process of returning or replacing products to the merchant, distributor, or manufacturer for replacement, repair, or refund of the amount paid by the consumer for the completed order.
This system allows online consumers to initiate returns themselves by selecting from their personal profile the orders from which they want to return specific items. They can generate a return label and track the status of their requests. The RMA system optimizes the administrative process related to returns by reducing the invested time and resources. Administrators do not have to deal with piles of paper, return requests sent by email, and complex non-automated procedures, allowing them to focus on other important aspects of the business.

How does RMA work?

As many online merchants ask us and encounter this solution for the first time, we will explain how the basic return and exchange process works for the end consumer:

The standard process usually involves several steps:

  • Step 1: Submission of Return Request: The user fills out a special RMA return form, including a list of their current orders eligible for return, replacement, or repair within the product's warranty period. They access order X and select the items they want to return, indicating the reason for their request. After successfully submitting the request, the application receives an RMA number, used for tracking and labeling the returned products.

  • Step 2: Sending the Items back to the Supplier by Courier. The user sends the product(s) they want to return by handing them over to the chosen courier company for delivery to the online merchant.

  • Step 3: Receiving Confirmation of Receipt of Products from the Merchant.

  • Step 4: Checking and Evaluating the Returned Items: Upon receipt of the return, the operational and warehouse team inspects and evaluates the returned item(s). This step includes checking for damages, defects, or discrepancies between the returned item and its initial condition.
  • Step 5: Refunding or Replacement (or refusal by the online merchant).
  • Step 6: Sending the Item to the Buyer or Refunding the Funds - to their bank account, card, virtual wallet, or credit card.

The Return and Replacement Module (RMA) in Your Magento Online Store

The Stenik team successfully implements and configures the Return and Replacement Module (RMA) in the online stores of most of our clients. Implementing it for a significant portion of our clients, we established a fundamental process tailored to Bulgarian online consumers and merchants, to which we adapted the module.

This process involved analyzing the return and replacement methods used by the online merchant, followed by the successful integration of the module and precise configuration of the return and replacement parameters. Whether users are registered or guests, they can access their orders, select the items they want to return or replace, specify the reason for return, and indicate whether they want the product to be replaced or receive a refund according to the policy and procedure described in the respective online store's RMA Policy.

The result of this process is a significant improvement in customer service, meeting the growing needs and expectations of consumers. Additionally, to personalize the module according to each merchant's requirements, we enhanced it with modifications that we will discuss below:

Get acquainted with the improvements we implemented:

Ability to Generate Return Labels by Users in Your Magento Store:

We upgraded the RMA module with an additional step that provides users with two options for managing their returns.

Generating a Waybill from a Courier Company, specified by the merchant: Users can choose to automatically generate a waybill to be sent to the courier specified by the online merchant. This reduces the costs of returning the goods back to the merchant, as the user benefits from the discounts provided to the e-merchant by the courier company. Additionally, the e-merchant immediately receives the waybill number, providing information on the location of the shipment. This reduces the cost of returning the goods to the merchant, as they benefit from the merchant's discounts on the courier service. On the other hand, the merchant immediately receives the waybill number, giving them information about its location.

  • Self-determination of the return method: Users can choose to determine their own return method and provide the necessary data to generate a waybill, including the document number and the details of the courier they used to send the products back to the merchant.

Regardless of the user's choice, after the successful completion of the return process, the system automatically records all data related to the generated waybill or the customer's preferences regarding the courier. This provides convenience and efficiency to the operators, who can easily track the movement of returned products.

Entering IBAN for Refund

Another modification we implemented in the RMA module is the ability for customers to enter their International Bank Account Number (IBAN) in case they prefer a refund instead of replacing products. IBAN validation is performed automatically, with the system checking the number of characters entered by the user to prevent common errors when entering this information.

Entering IBAN in the user profile and in RMA requests provides convenience and several advantages. This option allows storing IBAN in the user profile and streamlines the customer's future RMA requests, enabling them to use the same IBAN for subsequent returns. Moreover, this approach effectively prevents unnecessary communication between the customer and the merchant related to dictating IBAN over the phone, which can lead to errors and inaccuracies.
In some cases, it is good practice for IBAN entry to be a mandatory step in user profiles. This ensures greater clarity, as there are situations where the customer may choose the "return via credit card" option. In this case, the amount can be refunded to the customer's IBAN or to their virtual wallet (if available in the online store), ensuring that these funds will be spent in the merchant's online store.

Bilateral integrations with ERP systems and the RMA module: Automation and operational efficiency

In our effort to provide our customers with cutting-edge solutions for return management, we have implemented bilateral synchronizations using the Magento API module extension, easily integrating with various ERP systems. This implementation is highly beneficial for many of our clients, as it significantly enhances the automation and efficiency of their return-related operations.
The two systems: ERP and Magento exchange information bidirectionally, with return data transmitted in real-time, ensuring that the information is always up-to-date. Data transmitted includes: order numbers, the list of returned items, the current status of the return, and other essential details.

This type of integration facilitates the work of administrators and customer service teams, allowing them to track and manage the return process directly from their ERP system, without the need to switch between different software applications. This greatly simplifies and optimizes the return processing, reducing the likelihood of human errors.

Administrators' Ability to Initiate Returns in Magento on Behalf of Users

For some clients, we enhanced the RMA system by adding the capability for administrators to initiate returns in the administrative section of the store on behalf of users. When a user who has made an online purchase visits the physical store of the e-merchant and expresses a desire to return an item, the store staff can create a return in Magento directly in the user's profile. This functionality provides greater flexibility and convenience to customers, allowing them to initiate returns even in physical stores.

Option for Refunding to User's Virtual Wallet

We have added an option that allows users to receive the return amount as credit in their virtual wallet, which they can use for future purchases in the merchant's online store. This functionality provides convenience and flexibility to customers, allowing them to use the refunded funds at their discretion in their subsequent purchases.

Advantages of the RMA Module and How It Facilitates the Return and Exchange Process:

Implementing a return management system has numerous benefits for both customers and online merchants.
On the one hand, having this option enhances customer trust by providing them with a clear and transparent process for returning products. On the other hand, the process expedites the handling of returns by the online store staff and reduces the likelihood of manual errors.

For Users:

  1. Easy Return Management: Customers can create, edit, confirm, and comment on their return requests.
  2. Intuitive Interface: The RMA system allows customers to easily submit return requests in Magento and track the progress of their requests from their user accounts.

For Administrators:

  1. Return Rule Management: Administrators can create return rules and define different return (refund) periods based on customer groups and product attributes.
  2. Introduction of Various Return Reasons: The system allows for various return scenarios, including refunds, product replacements, warranty returns, and more.

  • Personalized Requests: The module allows creating an unlimited number of personalized reasons for a return request, such as product dissatisfaction, defective product, wrong size, etc.
  • Notifications and Automated Messages: Sending automatic email notifications to administrators, customers, and guest users upon the creation or update of RMA requests.
  • Default Administrator: Setting a default RMA operator to manage all newly created return requests, facilitating the tracking and processing of returns.
  • Flexibility in Request Creation: Initiating return requests by registered customers, guest users, and administrators, providing flexibility at the beginning of the return process.
  • Custom Response Templates: Ability to use basic text templates or create personalized ones for quick responses to customers, optimizing time and facilitating communication.
  • RMA Notes in the Admin Panel: Comments in the admin panel visible only to the e-store staff.
  • Deactivation of the RMA Functionality for Customers: Administrators can deactivate the RMA functionality for customers in the visible part of the e-store and handle all returns only from the administrative panel if necessary.
  • Individual Return Addresses: Administrators can specify a return address different from the customer's shipping address.
  • Return Policy: Implementing a return policy in the store, including time constraints and providing guidelines for packaging and documentation. Publishing this information on various pages and transactional emails to inform customers about return conditions and rules.
  • Creation of Credit Memos: Generating credit memos directly from the RMA request page.
  • Inventory Return Management: Tracking inventory and accounting for returned items that can be resold. Accurate tracking of returned products allows warehouse teams to update stock levels, adjust planned loads and deliveries, and minimize situations of stockouts or excess inventory.

Would you like to enhance the return and exchange process in your online store?

If you need additional information or wish to explore, upgrade, and improve your RMA process, reach out to our support department or your personal Project Manager. They are available to answer all your questions and discuss how we can modify and customize the module based on your specific business needs and the requirements of your online store users.

Explore other articles in our blog and discover other opportunities to upgrade and enhance your online store.

About the author:

dobi-author-photo Dobi Parvova

Dobi Parvova works as a Marketing Manager at Stenik. She joined the team in 2015, having completed her degrees in "Public Relations" and "Advertising and Public Communications" at Sofia University. She channels her entire creative potential into areas such as PR, content & creative, corporate communications, social media, partner relations, and client.

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