TECHNOLOGY

Sustainable menswear brand makes returns ‘less painful’

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new technology stack is helping e-retailer Outerknown manage one of online retail’s most inefficient processes.

The sustainable menswear brand is partnering with Happy Returns, a company dedicated to managing in-person returns for online retailers, to streamline its returns process. By leveraging the company’s new “full stack returns” solution, the digital retailer is able to offer a smoother post-purchase experience for customers, while reducing operating costs and maximizing revenue recaptured via exchanges.

Full stack is Happy Returns’ first comprehensive return solution. It includes a number of different components, including a retailer-branded online return flow that proactively recommends exchanges to shoppers based on the items being returned, the reason for the return, and availability of similar inventory. It also gives participating retailers the opportunity to leverage Happy Returns’ network of 275 Return Bar locations nationwide.

Utilizing Happy Returns’ mobile returns app, Outerknown can promote exchanges across in-store and online inventory and Happy Returns’ reverse logistics, if needed, to ship products. The solution also supports integrated returns by mail, a process that features competitive shipping rates.

Returns from all channels are aggregated in Happy Returns’ regional return hubs and dispositioned in the most cost-effective way possible, including processing items for restocking at fulfillment centers or stores, liquidation, donating to charity, or recycling, all efforts that eliminate shipping products across the country before disposition decisions are made.

Finally, the stack features analytics and reporting for returns from all channels along with real-time updates. This includes complimentary net promoter score surveys for in-person returns and a customer service console to easily resolve any exceptions that may arise. Since Full Stack Returns captures all returns — whether by mail, in stores, or via Return Bars — the retailer dashboard reporting offers a comprehensive view of all returns through all channels and provides insights unique to each channel.

“Prior to Happy Returns, returns were painful and expensive for our company,” said Travis Heard, CFO at a sustainable menswear brand Outerknown. “We are thrilled to consolidate returns software and services with one trusted partner, and our customers appreciate the ease and consistency of their experience, no matter how they choose to return.”

Since Full Stack Returns is completely integrated, all of the components work together to provide the best customer experience at the greatest value and utility for retailers. Retailers that already have some of the stack’s point solutions can activate other components as individual modules, according to Happy Returns.

“We heard loud and clear from our retail partners that they want a comprehensive set of technology and services to address the challenge of returns,” said David Sobie, co-founder and CEO of Happy Returns. “Full Stack Returns delights shoppers and reduces retailer costs.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Report has red flags for retailers heading into holidays

BY Marianne Wilson

Will promotions and markdown cut into retailers’ holiday cheer?

Retailers are holding more inventory heading into the 2018 holiday season versus last year, and markdowns and promotions are also tracking higher compared to last year, according to the “DynamicAction Retail Index: 2018 Analysis and Holiday Outlook”. It reported a 21% increase in held inventory, and a 2% increase in online orders so far this year, with a resulting 3% rise in margin impact.

In addition, orders using a markdown are up 5% year to date over this time last year, resulting in a 27% margin impact. In what DynamicAction called a “red flag for retailers,” markdowns rose 18% in August alone. In another “red flag,” there has been no weekly increase year-over-year in new customer orders since April.

The report noted that retailers have been vying for digital wallet share with an increased (5%) marketing spend year-to-date over last year.

“However, the misalignment between what customers want and what’s being made available, coupled with an increase in markdowns, could have detrimental consequences on customer retention and profit,” the report stated. “Gaining a true understanding of customer profitability has never been more important leading into the busiest shipping season of the year for retailers and brands.”

In other findings, new customer orders are down 5% year-over year so far in 2018. Free shipping is up 13% year-over-year, with the value of returns up 36%.

DynamicAction offered a tip for retailers as they head into the holiday season.

“Pulling inventory levels into alignment with demand ahead of the holidays will be paramount to driving profitability through the lens of ‘views availability’ — ensuring specific products that customers are seeking do not fall into fragmented or out-of-stock levels prior to the holiday season,” the report said.

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Amazon broadens its private label offering in one of its hot categories

BY CSA Staff

Amazon is making another move in the healthcare segment.

The online giant is launching an exclusive new brand called Choice, a line dedicated to consumer medical devices, according to CNBC.

Health brand consultancy Arcadia Group worked with Amazon to create the line, which includes merchandise such as blood pressure cuffs and glucose monitors. The line, which was initiated by the health company, will be sold exclusively on the e-commerce giant’s marketplace, the report explained.

The new Choice brand benefits Amazon in two ways. In addition to bolstering the company’s increasing assortment exclusive brands sold on its website, the line also coincides with Amazon’s increasing interest in health and wellness products and services, according to CNBC.

To read more, click here.

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