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What is RMA, and How To Manage It?

Sofia Gomez
Sofia Gomez
Oct 18, 2023
What is Rma

Online stores often wonder: what is an RMA or a Return Merchandise Authorization?

Every online business has to deal with returns, so it's important to understand what RMAs are and how they work. RMA stands for Return Merchandise Authorization, and it's a unique number that you assign to customers who are returning items. This helps you track the return, process it quickly, and ensure that the customer receives the refund or exchange they need.

If you're new to RMAs systems, don't worry. In this article, we'll explain what they are and how the process works in detail.

Important points about RMA

Before explaining in detail what an RMA is, here are some interesting points:

  • RMAs are used to manage product returns due to defects, damage, quality issues, or customer dissatisfaction
  • Keeping the customer informed of the status of their RMA is essential for a good shopping experience
  • Businesses often review the RMA process and make improvements to minimize returns and increase customer satisfaction
  • RMA management can be costly for businesses, so they seek to balance customer satisfaction with operational efficiency
  • Depending on location and industry, there may be specific regulations that affect the handling of returns and RMAs
  • Customers or users must request an RMA through a form or a return automation tool such as Outvio

What is an RMA?

RMA stands for Return Merchandise Authorization. It is the reference number associated with the return process of an order.You can use that RMA number to identify the return operation, track it, and classify the product once it returns to your warehouse. Furthermore, it will provide you with all the information regarding the nature of the return, such as the reasons for it or the type of exchange or refund.

The RMA system is necessary for processing returns requested by your customer, but also for those you request from your supplier or distributor. It is often linked to warehouse logistics, so many Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) incorporate it among their functionalities.

RMA Management.

How does the RMA process work?

Now that you know the meaning of RMA, let's see how to manage it correctly:

1. RMA Customer Request

At the onset of the RMA process, the customer initiates it by submitting a request to obtain a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number. This can be done by contacting the ecommerce store's customer service team or by completing an online form specifically designed for this purpose. 

The RMA request typically includes details such as the order number, the reason for the return or exchange, and any pertinent information about the product in question.

2. Packaging and Labeling

The next crucial step falls on the shoulders of the customer. They must meticulously package the item they wish to return and clearly label it with the issued RMA number. 

This attention to detail is vital in safeguarding the item during transit, as it helps prevent any potential damage. Inadequate packaging may lead to complications in the RMA process, including disputes over the condition of the returned product.

Find out the best way to create return labels in eCommerce.

3. Shipping the Returned Item

Following proper packaging and labeling, the customer is responsible for shipping the item back to the ecommerce store. The store will typically provide detailed instructions on how to return the product, which the customer should follow diligently. 

It's important to note that in many cases, the customer is responsible for covering the shipping costs associated with the return, although some stores may offer prepaid shipping labels, depending on their policies.

4. Inspection and Processing

Once the returned item reaches the ecommerce store, it undergoes a thorough inspection. During this phase, the store's personnel assess the product for any damage, wear and tear, or discrepancies. 

They also verify that the returned item aligns with the RMA information provided by the customer and that the reason for the return is valid. This step ensures that the store has a clear understanding of the product's condition and the customer's specific requirements.

5. RMA Resolution

Based on the findings of the inspection, the ecommerce store proceeds with the RMA resolution. This phase involves determining the appropriate course of action to address the customer's request. 

Depending on the outcome of the inspection, the store may issue a refund, send a replacement item, or take other necessary measures to resolve the customer's concerns satisfactorily. The objective is to ensure that the customer's expectations are met and that the RMA process is concluded smoothly, resulting in customer satisfaction.

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Unlock latest strategies and insights about return management by reading our comprehensive guide.

What is an RMA account?

An RMA account is a business tool that merchants use to manage return requests.

Basically, they enable companies to create, track, and manage product return or exchange requests. They are able to generate RMA numbers and synchronize the entire process with shipping companies.

An RMA account or software is important because:

  • It allows the buyer to create return, exchange, or refund requests digitally
  • The store can assign a unique RMA to each return or exchange request for management and tracking
  • An RMA account makes it easy to verify returned products, ensuring they match the information provided by the customer
  • The store can send notifications to the buyer with real-time information about the status of the return
  • The store can generate reports with relevant trends or metrics about its returns and exchanges and identify areas for improvement

Outvio is one of the most comprehensive software solutions for returns and exchanges management in the eCommerce industry.

Pros and cons of RMA

Pros of a RMA

Data collection

The RMA form that a customer must fill out to request a return is a great tool for collecting data about your customer and your product. You can use this data to identify the most common return reasons and make improvements. The information provided by RMA systems is essential to reduce the number of returns in an eCommerce.


An RMA helps merchants prepare for returns, repairs, and refunds in advance, minimizing time and resource expenditures during the return process management.

Reducing incidents

All products that arrive at their destination without an RMA number must be investigated by the merchant to determine the validity of the return, which usually translates into delays or incidents.


The only way for a merchant to track a reverse shipment is if the RMA label has been placed in the package. Without this code, tracking portals will not be able to determine the location or status of the package.

Cons of a RMA

Slow implementation

Integrating a fully functional and error-free RMA system can take a business quite a bit of time.

High complexity

RMA tools can be difficult to use if you don't have the right knowledge. This can lead to incidents or problems.

Expensive development

Creating a system for validating and managing RMAs in eCommerce is quite expensive. For this reason, many businesses opt for specialized tools.

Good practices for RMA management

  1. The first best practice is to have a clear and transparent return policy.This policy should be clearly visible on the store's website and should explain the terms and conditions of returns.
  2. The return process should be simple and easy to follow. The customer should be able to initiate a return with just a few clicks.
  3. Offering a prepaid return label is a good way to make the return process easier for the customer. This eliminates the need for the customer to purchase a shipping label.
  4. It is important to maintain clear communication with the customer throughout the return process. The customer should know when their return has been received and when they will receive their refund.
  5. The refund should be processed as quickly as possible. This will help maintain customer satisfaction.
  6. It is important to have a return tracking system in place so you can track the status of each return.
  7. It is important to review the return process periodically to identify areas for improvement.

RMA tool for eCommerce

After explaining what an RMA is and its process, it is easier to understand how returns have become the most important pillar for the customer shopping experience. Automating and personalizing them will help you keep your customer satisfied throughout the shopping experience and thus increase your revenue. 

With Outvio you can optimize all the processes that follow the checkout and offer the best possible experience to your customer. From shipping to returns or customer service. Everything automated, customizable and international scale. 

How does Outvio help you with your RMA management?

  • Outvio automatically assigns RMAs seamlessly, without the need for any extra steps.
  • With Outvio, the shipping label and tracking number are instantly tied to the RMA, so you can always identify a return, even without the RMA number
  • Also helps you to easily approve or reject returns and automatically notifies customers of your decision
  • Is fast and easy to implement
  • Is a very affordable tool compared to developing your own RMA system

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