Online Presence: RMA Software
How to save time and money by automating the returns process.
By Joe Dysart
While taking a store online involves a major time commitment, it’s possible to trim those hours considerably by automating the returns process with RMA (return merchandise authorization) software.
RMA packages relieve store managers from manually rooting through old receipts, trying to keep track of incoming returns and outgoing replacements, and all the other tedious details associated with returns. Instead, an easy-to-use, web interface handles virtually all RMA functions.
“To reduce cost and improve customer service, companies need a real-time ‘portal’ that automates critical work functions for customers, suppliers, dealers and all parties across the service/supply chain,” said Bob Foster, founder of Global Now, an RMA software supplier.
Moreover, for virtually all storeowners, the price of RMA software is right. A fully automated RMA software package can go for a few hundred dollars, while other packages are available as web services for $20 or so, per month.
Plus, most of these packages also offer web interfaces for everyone involved in the process, so that all parties—including the customer, shipping and receiving, suppliers and the store’s repairs department—can work from the same page.
Specifically, customers like these systems because they can request and obtain an RMA number day or night, receive e-mail updates about their RMA requests, and eliminate most of the e-mail and phone tag associated with non-automated RMA systems.
Meanwhile, sales personnel are able to use RMA packages to keep track of all RMAs associated with their customers, and can be proactive about any RMA problems that crop up. Such tracking also enables sales representatives to up-sell RMA-awaiting customers on other products and services, such as service contracts, warranties and spare parts.
In addition, the store’s customer-service department is able to use these systems to quickly search for RMA data by part number, problem description or similar variables, and present a professional face to a customer concerned about quick and easy handling of an RMA.
Some systems also enable customer-service departments to create personalized lists of RMA cases for assignment to specific personnel, and offer reports of any potential bottlenecks emerging in the process.
Moreover, most packages allow customer-service departments to monitor RMA caseload by department, user, project and/or product, and offer authorized users the ability to view and work with all comments and data associated with any RMA.
Here’s a representative sampling of currently available RMA software.
- TracReturns, Mustang Software, www.mustangtechnologies.com; $279/unlimited users
This is an attractive solution for storeowners looking to pay one price for a complete system for unlimited users. All steps of the return process are tracked, including the date the return was issued, the date the merchandise arrived, the date any needed repair estimate was provided and similar data.
The package also sends customers automatic e-mail any time the status of a return changes, eliminating much of the drudgery of responding to customer inquiries via e-mail on phone. A free 30-day trial download of the product is available on Mustang’s website.
- ResponsAbility, from webcom, www.webcominc.com; from $20 per user/month
As with most standalone applications, this package enables every department involved in the RMA process to monitor its role in the process. Users have the ability to customize their online RMA form, and each request gets a unique case number instantaneously.
Authorized requests move through a predictable and consistent workflow of receiving the goods, inspecting and testing them, determining a cause of failure, and replacing or repairing them, before the case is closed. During the investigation/testing phase, the store’s employees, customers and partners can collaborate by providing comments and clarifications, sending notifications, assigning responsibility, exchanging files and drawings, and similar actions.
- Interwix, Global Now, www.globalnowinc.com; under $100/month, up to three users
The company’s founder said a standalone version of Interwix for RMAs should appear by this summer. Its web-based interface enables customers, dealers and employees to easily create and monitor RMAs via the Internet. The software also can automatically verify the legitimacy of RMA claims, and check on serial numbers and warranty status.
It also handles product information from multiple suppliers, and can manage workflow, data and reporting in multiple languages if needed.
- MAS 90, Sage, www.hightowerinc.com; call for price
Available as a module in the MAS 90 ERP accounting software system, MAS 90 easily sorts RMAs by requests for credit, replacement, substitution or repair. The module also enables users to print out fax notifications to customers regarding RMAs, as well as similar communications to warehouse personnel.
Other documents also generated include credit memos, replacement orders, purchase orders and vendor returns. All told, the system will save storekeepers hours of data entry and eliminate the need to search through file drawers for supporting historical documents.
The software also makes it easy to determine the status of a return—received or not. In addition, the “Return Reason Report” shows users what items have been returned, who’s returning them and why—so that potential problems can quickly be isolated and neutralized. <HOME>
Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.
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