Cutting loses with Effective RMA Programs

  • Cutting loses with Effective RMA Programs

    As a logistics service provider, most of our clients first come to us looking for savings on their outbound freight but overlook inbound shipments and returns. While it is unfortunate, mistakes do happen. Perhaps the product didn’t meet the specification a sales engineer presented, perhaps the product was faulty a few weeks in or even a mistake on the dock occurred and a shipment got sent to the wrong customer. So how can a business best manage things once the damage is done?

    1) Make your return policy highly visible, make return contact information easily searchable or prominent on your website. Put this information also on your invoice to your customer. Advise the customer of any restocking fee and the need to obtain an RMA # beforehand.

    2) Differentiate ground and freight. Not all returns should be sent parcel nor should all returns should be sent freight it is important to distinguish the two especially today. The major parcel carriers have shrunk the criteria that makes a shipment economical to ship parcel versus freight. Likewise do not assume if an item was sent freight the return needs to be moved via freight as well. Perhaps only a few cartons need to be sent back and can be sent parcel.

    3) If possible have established what needs brought back with the fastest transit (such as a product that is causing your customer a shutdown if not repaired promptly) and what can be shipped on a slower and more economical transit. This is especially important to distinguish based on inventory levels and warranty turn around times. (For example, if it takes 5 weeks to effectively service a warranty return why take on more cost to bring an item with a next day transit when that item might be sitting days before production can take a look at it.)

    4) Enforce the policies you have in place if a product arrives on your dock and the restocking fee is valid bill the customer. If returns are only accepted at a certain facility and they were instructed to ship that facility don’t put it on your dime to correct the client mistake.

    Companies today realize it is often not cost effective to handle this operation in house and look to a logistics service provider to help manage returns. Coordinating the variable can be a daunting and time consuming ordeal.

    As a result, we also set up for our customers RMA freight programs, similar to our VIP (Vendor inbound program). We view ourselves first and foremost as an extension of your company’s traffic department. When someone calls us to ship a return we professional take care of your customer the same way you would. We follow the best practices and take care of these details so you can focus on your core business. For questions on managing returns call the office at 717-626-1107×3 or email

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