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Electronics manufacturer: Return merchandise process management

Accenture helps a world leading electronics manufacturer strengthen control of its return merchandise authorization process to achieve high performance.


Accenture's Electronics & High Tech industry group offers management consulting, technology strategy and implementation services to all segments of this exceptionally dynamic industry.

Discover in this case study, how Accenture helps a leading electronic manufacture to achieve high performance in peripherals market.

Recognized as a premium provider of peripheral electronics in the retail market, this electronics manufacturer sought to further enhance its market position by developing an improved return merchandise authorization (RMA) model geared toward achieving high performance that would drive down both the number of returns and cost of servicing them. Paradoxically, the company's commitment to quality has not always translated into fewer product returns.

The company faced increasing demands from distributors and retailers to reduce costs associated with returns and service. As competition in the peripherals market intensified, distributors and retailers increasingly demanded that the company cover the handling costs associated with consumer product returns.

The company realized it needed to address the challenges in order to remain a leader in the industry. To achieve this goal, the company engaged Accenture to help transform its RMA process to help achieve high performance.

The Approach



Starting with the company's German subsidiary, Accenture developed a framework for improving the RMA process based on Accenture's deep industry skills and field-tested methodologies in service management.

Accenture began by documenting and assessing the company's reporting assets, as well as its existing return and service processes. Accenture quickly identified that one obstacle to better control of the RMA process was organizational. The company lacked a dedicated service manager who was responsible for all service-related matters.

There were numerous constituencies involved in the RMA process, each of which had its own return-handling protocols and reporting practices. Given this absence of standardization, the procedure suffered from long resolution times, as well as redundant screening and handling efforts.

Secondly, the company had numerous reporting tools, but these tools were different across divisions and the company lacked a centralized data warehouse. Therefore, the company had limited visibility into the end-to-end RMA process, and the German subsidiary in particular could not readily compare its service performance with other regional subsidiaries.

The study was completed and delivered in January 2008, just three months after initiating the project. The analysis of the company's current RMA state enabled Accenture to identify 12 "modules" and action steps that could enhance operational performance.

These modules were orchestrated into three solution scenarios.

Each of the scenarios built on the foundation of a "basic package" that included:

  • Naming a service manager.
  • Extending reporting and business intelligence tools to achieve better data transparency into the end-to-end process.
  • Controlling the RMA process by measuring and managing service incidents and costs incurred by the German subsidiary against other divisions and industry benchmarks.

Building on this foundation, the subsidiary is now prepared to implement an advanced RMA solution that matches both its short- and long-term performance objectives.



Accenture leveraged its supply chain experience to develop a framework for the company that will enable it to implement a controlling process for returns and generate potential net savings of up to 15 percent on total service costs. The framework combines people, processes and technology, that identifies real savings that the company will achieve.

Additionally, this framework provides the basis for continued improvement. By simplifying its process, the company can now:

  • Shorten RMA cycles.
  • Achieve greater control and transparency.
  • Reduce costs.

The company will also be able to work better with distributors and retailers and identify those with excessively high rates of returns.

Further, the RMA framework identified the opportunity for the company to shift consumer product returns from the costly dealer and distributor channel, to Web-based and call center options. This opportunity will drive down operational expenses of return reduction through better frontline filtering and avoidance of handling fees paid to dealers and distributors.

What's Next?