How do returns and refunds work for affiliates?

The most complex aspect of an ecommerce transaction is known as 'reverse logistics' or 'returns'.   Returns can kill a sellers profitability if not handled correctly, so it is important that both Sophio, the buyer, and the seller understand the process fully.  In this document we will discuss returns, refunds and cancellations which are connected but handled somewhat differently.  

Before geting started, let's review some terminology.

  • Seller - The company or website that sold an item to an end user.
  • Buyer - The 'end user' aka 'consumer' of an item for their own personal use
  • Supplier - The manufacturer or warehouse distributor who picks packs and ships an item to and end user
  • Fulfillment by Sophio (FBS) - The Sophio department that places orders with suppliers on behalf of sellers
  • RR - Return Request (Sophio's term for the document needed to return an item shipped to a buyer)
  • RMA - Return Merchandise Authorization (Sophio Supplier Term for a Return Request) - The RMA will result in an 'id' that must be written on the outer box or shipping label


Cancellations
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When an order needs to be cancelled, it is up to the seller to 'click a button' to refund the buyer.  While it is possible to automate refunds, the system wants a human to review the case before issuing a refund to the buyer.  When viewing an invoice in your sites dashboard you will see a section labeled 'Payment' in the 'Order Summary' area.  If your B2C site fully processed this order, you will see a 'refund payment' button.  If your Payment Gateway is properly configured a single click to this button will refund the entire transaction via the configured payment gateway.  Orders from eBay paid for via Paypal can also be refunded this way.

If a buyer cancels an order that has already been fulfilled by you or by Sophio FBS the Sophio system will not automatically refund you or your buyer.  The steps to process a cancellation for a fulfilled order are:

1.  If the order source is eBay, ask your buyer to make an official cancellation request at ebay from their purchase history screen, so that you do not receive a 'seller defect'.  If the order came to your B2C site direclty, then this is not a concern.
2.  Once you receive the official buyer cancellation, login to your Sophio FBS account and attempt to cancel the order.  If it has aleady been sent to a supplier, then create a support ticket by sending an email to fbs@sophio.com and include the Sophio Order Number in your request to cancel.  Most of the time it will be 'too late' since Sophio FBS processes orders within 60 minutes of receiving them.
3.  If the supplier has already picked packed and shipped the order you will not see a Cancellation link in your Sophio order history and the 'cancellation' has now become a 'return' that will require an RR.

Returns
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1. Seller or 'marketplace' creates a return request in B2C site and system decides if it needs an RMA id from supplier based on the settings in the sellers supplier configuration.  The eBay marketplace will generate a RR in the sellers B2C site.  Amazon does not offer this feature.  here are some additional ways to create a return request.  

  • A. Seller creates a return request on behalf of his customer at his own Sophio website via the page createreturnrequest.wws.  
  • B. Buyer logs in to sellers website and creates return request from the order history link - customerorderhistory.wws.
  • C. System extracts a return from eBay 
  • D. System extracts a Case from eBay
Note: If you use Fulfillment by Sophio for fulfillment all returns need an RMA.  Do not send parts back to Fulfillment by Sophio without an RMA and ALWAYS get a return tracking number to prove the item was in fact returned to the correct warehous.

2. Seller approves or rejects return request.

  • A. If approved, a return request email is sent to the buyer.  The return request has an RMA number on it, and the address to return the part.  It is important that the buyer pay close attention to the return address as it may differ from the address the item was shipped from
  • B. If rejected, a return request email is sent to the buyer telling buyer that item cannot be returned (perhaps it was a special order part, electrical part, or some other reason that the seller has)

3. Seller creates a return request at his supplier.  If the supplier is Fulfillment by Sophio, the Sophio system will automatically generate a RR in the sellers account at Sophio. 

4. Supplier system (fbs.sophio.com), responds to return request with either an automatic approval or a pending status.  Suppliers that do not require an RMA will get automatically approved.

  • A. If the FBS supplier does not need an RMA to return a part, FBS will auto approve the sellers return request and respond via email with the return address of the FBS supplier.  The RMA number will be the original order number that FBS sent to the 'actual' supplier so that when the seller returns the part, the 'actual supplier' can easily find the order in their system and properly give credit to FBS.
  • B. If the FBS supplier needs an RMA created, FBS must contact supplier and get an RMA number.
    1. Some suppliers have a b2b website where the RMA can be created by FBS.
    2. Some suppliers will create an RMA on behalf of FBS via email.  The Sophio system can generate an email for these suppliers when the seller creates the return request.  The 'actual suppier' will then get an email with a link to enter the RMA number themselves.

5. Fulfillment by Sophio will email the seller when the return request is approved along with the 'actual supplier' RMA number assigned to it.

6. Seller returns part to 'actual supplier' and enter tracking number into return request at their Sophio B2C site.  The tracking number may come from the buyer of the part, or the part may have been sent back to the seller.  Either way, the return tracking number used for sending the part back to the 'actual supplier' must be entered by the seller into the sellers return request.  If the transaction was started on eBay and the eBay buyer users the return system on eBay tracking numbers are automatically imported into the seller return request.  It is the sellers responsibility to get return tracking numbers to their supplier.  No tracknig number normally means no refund.  

7. Actual supplier receives return part, inspects, and credits FBS.  This process can take up to 30 days.

8. Fulfillment by Sophio receives credit memo amount, date, and credit memo number form 'actual supplier' and updates the return request.  FBS refunds seller credit card or Paypal account within 60 days of the RR being created.

9. Seller refunds buyer either via the Marketpalce (eBay or Amazon) or via their B2C site.  Seller visits the page getreturns.wws and find the RR either by RMA or Order Id and clicks the link labeled 'click to refund' in the returns report.

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