Return merchandise authorization
A return merchandise authorization (RMA), return authorization (RA) or return goods authorization (RGA) is a part of the process of returning a product to receive a refund, replacement, or repair during the product's warranty period. The purchaser of the product must contact the manufacturer (or distributor or retailer) to obtain authorization to return the product. The resulting RMA or RGA number must be displayed on or included in the returned product's packaging;
Return to vendor (RTV) refers to the process where goods are returned to the original vendor as opposed to the distributor.
The issuance of an RMA/RGA is a key gatekeeping moment in the reverse logistics cycle, providing the vendor with a final opportunity to diagnose and correct the customer's problem with the product (such as improper installation or configuration) before the customer permanently relinquishes ownership of the product to the manufacturer, commonly referred to as a return. As returns are costly for the vendor and inconvenient for the customer, any return that can be prevented benefits both parties.
Returned merchandise requires management after the return. The product has a second life cycle after the return.
An important aspect of RMA management is learning from RMA trends to prevent further returns. RMAs may be minimized in a number of ways. Adding a customer survey capability may prevent RMAs by detecting problems in advance of returns.
Return to vendor
Return to vendor (RTV) refers to the process where goods are returned to the original vendor instead of the distributor. In many cases the RTV was originally returned to the seller by the end consumer. While RTV transactions usually occur between the seller and the vendor, in some instances the end consumer returns the product directly to the vendor, sidestepping the distributor.
- Dana Dubbs, “Many (unhappy) Returns”, Operations & Fulfillment, Vol. 9, No. 3, March 2001.
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