Amazon Marketing Tips

The Role of Amazon RMA in Returns Processing and How Sellers Should Deal With Amazon Returns

One of the factors often left unrecognized by Amazon sellers, especially less experienced  sellers, is the reality of Amazon product returns. Newbie Amazon sellers often become too engrossed with their sales that they forget to anticipate and adequately respond to Amazon returns.

If you are dealing with product returns, it’s important to understand Amazon RMA and its role in returns processing. You will learn more about RMA number Amazon and some of the best practices when dealing with eCommerce product returns as you read further.

What Does RMA Stand For?

Encountering the term Amazon RMA for the first time, the usual question that comes to mind is, “what is RMA?” For starters, RMA stands for return merchandise authorization. It is not solely exclusive to Amazon, other eCommerce platforms use RMA in processing product returns.

The return merchandise authorization (RMA) refers to a numbered authorization that helps facilitate return requests for replacement, repair, or refund. Sometimes RMA is also referred to as return authorization (RA) or return goods authorization (RGA).

The RMA Number

As mentioned above, merchants or eCommerce stores provide numbered authorization that shoppers can use to process product returns. Such numbered authorization is known as the RMA number.

The purpose of the RMA number, including the RMA number Amazon, is to serve as a tracking system that allows sellers to track the type and quantity of items being returned. The RMA number also enables easy scanning of items entering the warehouse to avoid mixing returned items with new product shipments. 

The basic purpose of RMA numbers is to help organize and streamline product returns. The use of RMA benefits both the seller and the customer.

Overview of Amazon RMA

Amazon RMA simply means using an RMA number on Amazon as part of the Amazon returns process. It serves a similar purpose to that of other eCommerce stores or retailers. An Amazon RMA number is generated after a customer’s return request has been approved either by Amazon or the seller.

The latter scenario, wherein Amazon sellers will decide whether to approve or decline the return request, suggests that the request for product return did not fit the parameters of Amazon’s return policies. Hence, requiring manual return authorization by the seller.

Some of the reasons for manual authorization may include but are not limited to the following:

  • The product is not eligible for return
  • The return request was submitted after the expiration of Amazon return time-frame
  • The product subject for return has issues relating manufacturer’s warranty

If the seller decides to decline or close the return request, they must provide sufficient and detailed reason to the shopper for closing or declining the return request. If the shopper is not satisfied with the explanation, the shopper may make an A-to-z Guarantee claim but still be subject to Amazon review.

On the other hand, if the seller chooses to approve the return request, a notification of the seller’s decision will be sent to the customer along with the RMA number.

From the customer’s perspective, the returns process starts from their “Orders” page. They will need to search on the “Orders” page for the item they want to return and click “Return or Replace Item(s).”

Afterward, an on-screen prompt will appear where customers can select an option from the “Reason for return” menu. Some of the common reasons specified by customers include:

  • Defective
  • Incomplete
  • Ordered Wrong Product

Once Amazon has accepted the return, an RMA number Amazon will be assigned. The customer will then bring the product to an Amazon returns location.

Manual Returns Authorization Process

As discussed in the preceding paragraphs, Amazon sellers may approve or reject requests for product returns, provided the requests are out of Amazon’s returns policy or category-exempt. If you wish to manually process returns authorization, simply follow these steps provided by Amazon

  • Login to your Amazon Seller Central account and check the “Orders” tab. Underneath, look for the “Manage Returns” tab.
  • Once redirected, go to the “Pending Actions” and search by “Pending Authorization.”
  • Under the “Authorization Required” tab, you can see all return requests along with the customers’ comments.
  • On the furthest right, you either click (i) Authorize, (ii) Deny request, (iii) Issue refund, or (iv) Contact buyer.
  • Once you authorize the return, you will be prompted to either use Amazon RMA generated by the system or create a custom RMA number to be sent to the customer.

Important Actions to Take When Dealing With Amazon Returns

Since Amazon is a customer-centered company, it allows shoppers to request item returns within 30 days of receipt of shipment. Dealing with Amazon returns means additional tasks for sellers. To help you efficiently respond to Amazon returns, here are some steps you can follow:

Manage Records and Track Returns

Since Amazon returns include various processes, including a potential refund, sellers should keep a record of these returns. Keep track of these processes through your Amazon Seller Central account.

When expecting a product return shipment, check if it has already arrived at the fulfillment center. If there is still no record of it on your account, you can contact Amazon seller support for assistance.

Contact Amazon Shopper

To prevent or lessen negative customer feedback, you should reach out to the customer returning the item. Send a sincere apology, even if they have already posted their negative feedback.

In some instances, when customers read your apology, they might consider removing it, especially when the return, refund, or replacement has been efficiently processed.

Know the Reason for Amazon Returns

Finding out why customers return your products can help reduce future Amazon returns. If you can identify the issues based on customers’ feedback, you can create a specific action plan to address a particular issue. Resolving a customer’s concern and avoiding future returns may include products or listing improvements. 

Check Returned Items

If you are an FBM seller, you should see that returned items should be inspected thoroughly. You should check whether the reason for the return is accurate.

Checking the item upon return to your warehouse will also give you a chance to determine what to do with the item. If the item is still intact or not damaged, it can still be considered sellable. If it is damaged or defective, you can remove it from your inventory.

Customer Satisfaction and Retention

Amazon has provided its own returns policy for the convenience of its customers. Hence, it would help if you also offer Amazon shoppers a customer-friendly returns policy.

Since customers may already be frustrated with their order, your returns policy should not add to such disappointment. You should keep in mind that to focus on customer satisfaction more than closing a sale, which will likely lead to customer retention.

You can nurture a long-term relationship with the customer simply by providing a less demanding yet reasonable product returns policy. By doing so, you might invite the same customer to continuously purchase from your Amazon store.

Pricing Flexibility

In response to Amazon returns, you can implement test prices and Amazon PPC or promotions. Price in a way communicates a certain quality of the product,  which customers can evaluate once they get hold of the product.

If a customer is not satisfied with a product’s quality in relation to its price, chances are the buyer will request a product return. Hence, you should try to test different price points or run temporary promotions to determine which price point will meet the customers’ expectations.

Top Reasons for Product Returns

We discussed in the preceding paragraphs that knowing the reasons for product returns can decrease the occurrence of future returns. Aside from that, understanding the motivation for product returns can help you develop a solid strategy to sustain good customer relationships.

To help you avoid product returns in the future, here are some of the common reasons why customers, including Amazon shoppers, return their purchased items.

Wrong Items Bought

Purchasing the wrong product is one of the reasons why customers return their purchases. To prevent customers from buying an incorrect item, be precise with the information you provide.

Be sure to provide customers with the correct and complete product information, images, and the right price of the listing. Although this will not completely prevent returns, it will help diminish such instances as it allows customers to transition from being impulsive to more informed buyers.

Wrong Items Shipped

Since eCommerce is a large industry involving various departments and processes, customers receiving wrong items is common. The error might occur during the picking, packing, or shipping process.

If you are an Amazon FBM seller, always check the item you are sending. Try to compare the customer’s order with the actual product your team will be packing.

Make all necessary efforts to avoid sending the wrong item or sending an item not included in the customer’s order list. In general, customers are legally entitled to keep things they did not order as a free gift, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Such an incident usually happens when sending multiple orders to a single customer.

Items Arrived Too Late

Items arriving late is another reason for product returns. Items not arriving on time often lead to the product ordered being irrelevant or not needed anymore. Similarly, when an item comes later than expected, it gives customers time to change their minds or look for a replacement in a physical store in their area.

Processing each order promptly and providing customers with clear and real-time shipping information and shipment updates can decrease the chances of customers returning the items. Streamline your order fulfillment process to avoid delays.

Product Was Damaged or Defective

Apart from receiving the wrong items, customers also return products if they are damaged or defective. Despite packing and shipping the product intact and functional, accidents during shipping might cause damage to the product, in effect frustrating customers upon receipt.

To mitigate product returns caused by damaged or defective items, always check before packing and shipping them to customers. Additionally, reevaluate your packing and shipping procedures. Take additional precautionary measures to protect the items you will be sending.

Customer Changing Their Mind

You should be aware that a simple change of mind is an acceptable reason for product returns in eCommerce. That is why you should see to it that things are in order from listing, pricing, and shipping.

In terms of listing and pricing, see to it that you offer a competitive price so that online shoppers will not be tempted to look for a competitively priced item while waiting for the package. To have a competitive advantage in the Amazon marketplace, you can use an Amazon repricer to improve your pricing strategy.

Wardrobing

In general, sellers new to Amazon or eCommerce should be wary about a particular fraudulent practice targeting online sellers. Wardrobing is a form of return fraud involving online shoppers having a preconceived thought of using ordered items only once and returning despite not having any defect to recoup their full value.

This fraudulent activity does not only apply to clothing items, but it could also apply to other Amazon categories, including but not limited to electronics, home and kitchen, and household.

Although it is technically illegal, the consequences of such an act are almost non-existent. It is quite challenging to determine whether one has only used the garment or item once.

Setting a clear and firm return policy may discourage customers from wardrobing. Similarly, by tracking product returns to your  stores, you can identify and stop the so-called “serial returners.”

Go Beyond Returns Processing

Resolving an Amazon return does not simply end with sellers authorizing the return request and providing an Amazon RMA. You should establish a solid strategy that will help decrease Amazon returns in the future.

The discussions above can help you find the best approach to improve your product and services for increased customer engagement and satisfaction. Implement a holistic approach to your business that will not only enhance product listings and order fulfillment but the service of your business in its entirety. 

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