returns management

Return to Vendor should not become Return to Sender

Your returns process should be prepared for another returns process: return to vendor.

Companies that sell products likely deal with returns as well. In fact many companies deal with multiple return flows. The first flow, customer returns, is not such a problem anymore as software and service solutions are available to deal with this flow. The problem often starts when the products from this flow arrive at your returns center and a second flow should start.

Product returns need a disposition to recover value

The second return flow starts with the completion of the first flow. The first flow ends with a simple question; what to do with the returned products?

There are many options varying from restock to recycling (and many options like repair and refurbishment in between). The complexity of the returns process increases if a second flow is needed when products are to be returned to the original manufacturer (OEM) or supplier to claim warranty or repair.


Returning a product to the OEM or supplier sounds easy. Request an RMA, ship the goods and wait for the financial settlement. Easy as it can be.

But this process can be extremely complex by the variety of return policies and processes that have been implemented by the OEMs and suppliers. At the end of the day also these parties are very anxious to control the inflow of returns as it means an obligation for them.

Requesting a Return Material Authorization at the OEM or supplier requires you to have you act together and simply comply with their return policies.

Never, ever just ship an un-authorized return to them as it will likely be just shipped back to you. The possible result, Return-to-Sender, means a second, unwanted, returns flow into your returns center. And a missed opportunity for financial compensation.

The second returns flow requires a controlled first flow

To successfully request an RMA with the OEM or supplier you need to make sure that your return request contains all relevant data (like serial numbers) that is requested by them. Typically, this data is captured in the first return flow when you receive the product from your customer. The first and second return flows are related and your returns management process should make the connection.

In the first return flow you already need to take into account the varieties that you will face in the second flow. Varieties that increase if you deal with many OEMs and suppliers.

The first flow should run fast and efficient to timely trigger the second flow. The opportunities to claim warranty or repair in the second flow are often time-sensitive.

Return-to-Vendor requires smart tools

Connecting the first and second return flows offers many opportunities to recover value from returned products. In fact there are different, interesting ways, to even go beyond simply connecting these flows. Returns management software can help you to avoid Return-to-Vendor become Return-to-Sender.

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