Code presents: a custom RMA app to simplify the return process by Linda Blijenberg
Until recently processing returns was a time consuming business for MR MARVIS, which involved a lot of manual data input and hence a too high error margin. COO Carl Brenninkmeijer explains: “The old returns process was very repetitive. Every day we received an Excel file from Active Ants, our fulfilment partner, with an overview of returned packages and if it concerned exchanges or refunds. Which we had to look up by hand and process in the order overview in Shopify. It slowed down the process by a whole day.”
Room for improvement
Active Ants based the Excel sheet on manually filled out return forms from customers, which also comes with an error margin. When customers wanted to exchange something, MR MARVIS had to generate a new order, manually. Refunds had to be processed manually as well – with extra attention for the correct application of discounts, because Shopify would divide these over the whole order. When a customer received a €10 discount on an order and ordered two pairs of shorts, Shopify would interpret this as a €5 discount per pair of shorts.
If the customer then decided to return one of them, Shopify would calculate that the customer would only get a €5 discount, instead of the promised €10.
MR MARVIS, which continually strives to innovate in terms of customer experience, saw an opportunity for improvement. Carl: “At some point we asked ourselves: what does all this cost us? A lot! We could use that money to have Code built a tool to automate the whole process, which also makes it much easier and more fun for our customers.”
The new, improved returns process
Of course we at CODE considered this a very sensible move! Following extensive deliberation with MR MARVIS we built an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) app for them, with a custom interface where customers can register their returns themselves, online. They log in with their order number and postal code and get four options to choose from: exchange for a different size, exchange for a different colour, exchange for another product, or return (with their reason for returning an item).
When the customer clicks “send” after filling out the form, the app generates three actions: Active Ants receives a notification of what will be arriving back and why, the customer immediately gets a return label to download and print, and the customer receives the same return label per email as well.
As soon as Active Ants receives the return package, they check if it is consistent with what the customer registered in the app: is nothing damaged, is everything that should be there really in the package? This is updated in the return document automatically generated by the app, which can be viewed within the Shopify admin of MR MARVIS. Here all return requests are conveniently listed, with a mark indicating the returns with issues that someone still needs to look at.
In the last step the returns are processed in the Shopify admin, with the automated generation of a refund order or an exchange order. When this is completed, again an automated notification email goes to the customer.
In the last few weeks MR MARVIS has started using the app on their .nl and .com domains. Carl reports: “It works well! We fixed some minor errors and since last week it also works on our German, French and Danish webshops.” For the Danish one the currency was adapted.
In the near future MR MARVIS plans to start using the app in the UK as well, but while the British branch of carrier DPD is closed because of COVID-19 this is put on hold. Meanwhile, the pandemic illustrates the app’s uses for improving communication with customers. “Via the app, we can offer our customers targeted information about delivery times for example. At the moment there is a lot of pressure on the European package system, for instance, which leads to delays of up to two weeks sometimes. Customers receive a notification of this in our returns app, so they know what to expect.”
Carl is also enthusiastic about the possibility for customers to check if an item is in stock. It makes for less and less ‘noise’ between MR MARVIS and their customers. Does he have ambitions for further improvement? “At the moment the app doesn’t offer the option of exchanging an item for a more expensive item, to make that happen we would need to build a payment module first.”
Something for your webshop?
Our project manager Patrick Watzeels is pleased with the result, and the smooth collaboration. “MR MARVIS actively participated in the design phase, for instance with mapping out the user stories. It was really helpful, we received clear indications for what to work on. Because of that we could deliver a very neat app.”
So neat in fact that we at Code can imagine more merchants being interested in it. For MR MARVIS we connected the app to Active Ants, which makes it quite easy for us to make that same connection for other Shopify merchants who work with Active Ants.
If you happen to have a different fulfilment partner: not a problem! Patrick explains: “Because of this job for MR MARVIS we now have a generic fulfilment connector on offer with which we can connect the relevant piece of Shopify to any fulfilment party. So if you’re looking for something similar for your business, this is your chance to jump in on something that’s already partly finished!”
Wanted: app name
So what will the app be called? That question is as yet unanswered. Carl: “In the early days of the project I heard the name Returnify mentioned a few times, I thought that sounded good. A bit like Shopify. But lately Patrick usually refers to it as ‘the RMA app’, so I don’t know what it’s going to be.”
What’s that about, Patrick? “Well, it turns out the name Returnify has already been used for another app, so we need to find something else! We’re still pondering how to connect a beautiful name to this app.” Of course you can leave that to our connector kings ;) We’ll keep you posted!