E-commerce returns are being encouraged as they are proven to drive sales. An article by Maxim Mirov looks at how e-commerce companies, should calculate how many extra sales are needed to trade-off the cost of returns. What Maxim failed to include within his calculation was the operational cost of processing e-commerce returns.
E-commerce returns are inevitable. Reducing the amount of resources spent on processing returns will increase your profit margin.
Return Materials Authorisation (RMA) numbers
Processing e-commerce returns through an online RMA system provided by your e-commerce or inventory management software reduces both the volume of returns and the resources required to process each one.
Reduce the volume of returns
Volume of returns can be reduced by issuing RMA numbers against each return. An RMA system creates a returns protocol that has to be followed. This gives e-commerce companies an opportunity to examine, respond to and reverse e-commerce return requests. For high-technology products, returns rates can often be reduced by simply calling the customer and helping them get going.
Tracked returns = increased customer satisfaction
As a customer I like it when I am able to register a return online and receive an RMA number. Similarly to when I order a product and am able to track its progress, I like to be able to track returns and be notified when they have arrived safely back to the e-commerce company.
High return offenders
When a customer requests an RMA number against a previous purchase the reason for the return can be entered and automatically stored against the stock items history. Reporting on products' RMA records can help e-commerce to identify high return offenders and make plans to improve a products returns performance.
Faster warehouse returns processing
The fastest way to process returns into the warehouse is to scan the barcode on the RMA form and then scan the goods rather than processing paper forms and manually entering reasons for returns.
To make this possible, when customers request RMA numbers the warehouse or e-commerce software has to generate a RMA form. On the form a barcode containing the unique RMA number is created and the form needs to be printed and sent back with the return.
The unique RMA number barcode is also associated to the reason for the return given by the customers. When returns are scanned at goods-in, directions on how to handle the return can be issued automatically to the warehouse operator.
E-commerce returns decreasing your profit margin?
An RMA system can work as a standalone system or it can be integrated with your existing e-commerce platform or warehouse management system. Returns are inevitable, processing them professionally and efficiently with an RMA system will reduce processing costs and increase your profit margins.
Other interesting articles on handling e-commerce returns:
Author: Oliver Rhodes