Returns Pose Challenges in the Warehouse

Returns Pose Challenges in the Warehouse

Most companies do their best to avoid getting returns or refund requests, but it’s still an inevitable part of doing business. Sometimes the product doesn’t meet a customer’s expectations or an incorrect item is sent, necessitating an exchange or refund. Many sales departments have a hand in some part of the returns process, like dealing with the initial complaint, but warehouses are typically tasked with handling the return itself. Here are some of the challenges that are posed by Return Merchandise Authorizations (RMAs).

With online sales, the return process is more complex than a typical in-store exchange. An RMA might need to be inspected, replaced, returned to the manufacturer, restocked, repaired or even discarded entirely. It also must be matched with the authorization so the customer in question will get the refund or credit owed them; sometimes there is no authorization, in which case further research is required.

Include the Right Data in All RMAs

In the case where the wrong product was shipped to the customer, for example, the product itself can usually be sent right back to inventory. The RMA authorization should note that the product doesn’t need any inspection or repair and can go straight back to inventory to help the process run smoothly. However, if the scenario is more complex—say, the customer returned it because it did not work as they expected—it will have to be inspected and then sent for refurbishment or repair, returned to its original manufacturer, or possibly discarded.

Therefore, it is absolutely essential that RMAs include the reason a product is being returned. When this doesn’t happen, it can be a very costly mistake. Some RMAs that fall into this category end up in “dead zones” where they can be ignored for a long time or even forgotten because nobody knows what to do with them.

Simple notes—even just a few words like “ordered by mistake, restock”—can go a long way toward keeping return management efficient. In addition, setting aside an area for products that have been sent back without valid RMAs and checking it regularly would help ensure faster processing and increase customer satisfaction.

Handle your RMAs more efficiently with a warehouse management system (WMS). Learn more.

This blog post was based off of an article from Archon Interactive. View the original here.