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How to create a successful RMA strategy for your customers.

Customers want an easy and quick process for returns. Are you giving it to them?
Posted Jan 12 2022
Topics:
Order Management

Returns – like it or not, it’s a part of doing business in ecommerce. Customers returned an estimated 10% of ecommerce merchandise in 2020, so while ecommerce accounted for $791 billion in the same period, that’s around $80 billion in returns. If you fail to craft your returns strategy correctly, you could be turning off 10% of you customer base over the next year.

Customers returned an estimated 10% of ecommerce merchandise in 2020

Why? The returns process, or RMA (Return Merchandize Authorization) process, is a great opportunity to reduce friction, build brand loyalty, create advantages, and drive more sales.

Reduce friction with an online returns portal

You’ve worked hard to reduce friction in the checkout model of your ecommerce store, since you know that it increases conversions. But did you know that reducing friction in the RMA process is super important? Customers who have a painless RMA process are a benefit to you in 3 key ways:

  1. Customers are more likely to buy from you again in the future.

  2. Customers are more likely to choose an exchange instead a pure return-for-refund, keeping the revenue with you.

  3. You can embrace automation and reduce the workload on customer service.

The clearest path to reducing RMA friction for your customers is to provide a unified online returns portal; a website or page that steps the customer through the process of locating their order, choosing the items to return (or exchange), and then provide them with return instructions and a pre-paid shipping label.

SaaS OMS platforms are the perfect data-source to power your online returns portal, since they have data from all of your sales channels (ecommerce store, Amazon, eBay, etc), and support the creation of free exchange orders. Your OMS can also automate the calculation and processing of refund transactions for returns, reducing the burden on customer service.

Build brand loyalty through the returns process

Customers are loyal to brands that treat them well, and your RMA process can treat them well. Make it easy to return your stuff, and customers will be satisfied with the brand interaction; so much so that they’ll not only return for more purchases, but they will influence others on the brand.

Create advantages over competitors

Surprisingly enough, your competitors may not have put in very much effort to streamline returns. The RMA process is often an afterthought for brands. Much of the focus is on customer acquisition and goals, leaving anything that is “post-purchase” to the customer service team to handle.

When you craft a simple and brand-centered RMA process for your customers, you have opportunities for remarketing, retaining revenue (via exchanges), and driving traffic to new promotions that your competitors are leaving on the table. All this while making your customers actually feel better about your brand.

Mitigating losses from retail returns

There are obvious advantages to having a slick return process, but we’d be remiss to not mention the obvious downsides. You’ve already eaten into your margins on advertising and freight costs to get the sale, and now you need to pay for the return freight and refund the order. Ouch.

One way to soften the blow is with return fees. Rather than charging your customer for the return by initiating a new payment transaction (it’s already difficult enough to get people to part with their money), return fees can function by reducing the total refund your customer receives. In this way:

  • Your customer has a painless process to initiate and send back the return, since they don’t need to break out their credit card
  • You “charge” the customer for the return freight and restocking costs

Orderwave for ecommerce returns

If you’re interested in streamlining your ecommerce returns process (and lots of other things), consider using Orderwave for your OMS. We provide a slick online returns portal out-of-the-box, and tons of other features that supercharge your operations. Reach out to us today to see a demo, or check out a quick video introduction to see what we can do.

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