BigCommerce helps growing businesses, enterprise brands, and everything in-between sell more online.

What is an RMA System?

When selling online, you’re going to have to deal with returns. It’s unavoidable. As hard as you work to limit mistakes, some are still going to happen. Even when you’re not at fault, there are also circumstances when letting consumers send something back is good for business. 

That’s only the case, though, when your mechanisms for returns are efficient. That’s where RMA systems come in. If that’s not an acronym that’s familiar to you, never fear. We’re going to explain precisely what such a system is, why you need one, and how to get it working correctly. 

What is an RMA System?  

A return merchandise authorization (RMA) system is vital to firms selling over distance. That’s whether by mail order or – more likely – online. It’s the system by which you manage the return of products from your customers. 

The best RMA systems make it swift and straightforward for customers to send items back. What’s more, they make it simpler for you to exchange items, issue refunds, or take other actions. That’s only one of the reasons why all ecommerce stores need an RMA system.    

Why Should an Ecommerce Store Have an RMA System?

Customer retention is vital to the survival of many businesses. SaaS firms who sell things like a cloud phone system or collaboration software make it a focus. It’s also essential to ecommerce businesses, though. Boosting customer satisfaction is how those firms get return custom. A beneficial knock-on effect of that is a healthier bottom line.

Nothing scares a consumer away from a brand more effectively than a bad experience returning a product. If a customer must go to extraordinary lengths to send something back, it creates a terrible impression. If returns fall through the cracks and a store fails to provide an exchange or a refund, it’s even worse. That’s what makes an RMA system so crucial.    

Best Practices for Your RMA System  

All ecommerce stores are different. There’s no one-size-fits-all system to suit every business. In the case of RMA, though, there are some fundamental best practices you ought to follow.  

1.Initiate the return online. 

The aim of your RMA system is to make the lives of your customers easier. It’s always going to be simpler for them to initiate a return online than to get forced to pick up the phone. That’s no matter how efficient the internet phone service your customer support agents use may be. Try to make it as easy to return a product as it was to buy it.  

2. Give an option to customers to pick exchange items.

When a customer initiates a return, give them the chance to pick a replacement product. This is an option that can form a crucial part of your RMA system. It’s also something that many customers will appreciate. If a simple shipping error meant they got the wrong item, they might still want their original choice. A straightforward exchange like that is better for your bottom line than giving a refund.   

3. Allow customers to print labels.

Whether they’re getting a refund or exchange, your customer needs to return the item they have. It’s your job to make the process free of both hassle and expense. Set up your RMA system to send shipping labels by email, which your customers can print. That way, you can assume the cost of the return and keep consumers happier. You may even wish to look into how to get a business phone number specifically for dealing with returns. That’s another way to make the process as straightforward as possible for customers.    

4. Make sure the returns are an extension of the buying transaction.

Customers returning products will want to keep track of the process. They’re likely to email or call your staff to check how things are progressing. You want to respond to any queries swiftly and accurately. It helps in that regard for returns to get linked to the original transaction. That way, you can connect all the details within your order or CRM system to the return. When the customer chases their refund or exchange, all aspects will be at the fingertips of your customer service team.   

5. Make the transactions easy to monitor.

Linking returns to their original orders also makes them easier to monitor. Your RMA system should let you check on the progress of returns in a matter of seconds. You should know if a returning product is in transit or has arrived at your warehouse. You must also monitor how and when refunds get actioned, or exchange items dispatched.  


All ecommerce stores handle returns and refunds. Not all of them handle them well. Those that do are the brands with a robust RMA system. Such setups ensure that a shipping or other mistake doesn’t have to be a disaster. If your RMA system helps returns run smoothly, you can keep customers you may otherwise lose.

BigCommerce helps growing businesses, enterprise brands, and everything in-between sell more online.

Start growing your ecommerce business even faster.

High-volume or established business? Request a demo