The time has flown by here at Clear Returns HQ and suddenly the big pitches are less than a week away. November 14th, 5 days away to be exact!
Half of our team are preparing for the European finals of IBM’s Smartcamp in Berlin. As the winners of the Dublin heat we were thrilled and the positive response we gained from that experience has been huge.
Meanwhile the other half of the team are prepping for the Women 2.0 competition in New York. Naturally being the only non-US company selected as finalists we were over the moon to even have the chance to go! Since the announcement of the finalists we have had interest from US companies before we even deliver our pitch so this is sure to be a hugely exciting opportunity.
Needless to say the team are taking every moment they can to rehearse and practice for the big day, and despite some missing props and potentially dodgy accents, the feedback has been positive!
We will keep you posted on our progress so keep an eye out for our next blog post and tweets all through the week.
Clear Returns has had a truly phenomenal week at various different events across the country!
First up was the I-Com Big Data Venture Challenge held in Rome on October 16th. Competing alongside 8 finalists our CEO Vicky Brock delivered a superb pitch and was crowned the winner.
Next we were in Liverpool representing high-growth technology companies at The Pitch Live. 80 start-ups from across the UK pitched at the event held at the Merseyside Maritime Museum on the 18th and 19th of October. Clear Returns were selected as one of the top 20, who must now compete in a public vote to earn their place at the grand final on the 16th of November in London.
That night we also attended Hatchery Hits the Street, this awards ceremony is hosted by our business accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark and with the support of the Royal Bank of Scotland they provide £25,000 in prizes for entrepreneurs. CEO Vicky Brock pitched at this event in front of almost 400 guests, including Entrepreneurial Spark backers Sir Tom Hunter and Sir Willie Haughey. At the end of the night when we thought we’d missed out on a prize the big winner was announced – Clear Returns! We won the best high impact award – and a £3,500 cheque!
Finally on the 25th of October we were selected to appear at IBM’s Smartcamp in Dublin. Competing against 4 other strong contenders Clear Returns were honoured to be selected as the winners and will now attend the European finals in Berlin on November 14th.
How to top a week like that? Well New York is still to come…
A recent survey conducted by Clear Returns has investigated customer return behaviour and the growing trend of consumers continually returning garments they have already worn.
67% of survey respondents have returned items that they ordered online, with almost 40% returning several items.
Much more concerning is the statistic that nearly a quarter of respondents have returned items that they had already worn, basically committing fraud. 52% of respondents also said their friends had committed similar offences. The most common reason given was that customers would buy an item for an occasion, wear it once and then get a refund:
“My friend has WAG aspirations and regularly returns dresses to coast etc she has worn to an occasion. She has commented that more shops are putting labels on the outside now so she can’t hide them or pin them in. I think returning online gives her more anonymity but she has returned in store (rotates the stores she goes to).”
“Wore the clothes, damaged them, returned them claiming they were damaged on arrival”
“No point of keeping it if it was only going to be worn once.”
This behaviour is known as “de-shopping” and it is becoming increasingly common as is returns fraud. A recent publication by Tamira King and John Balmer on this issue provides some further insight.
Worryingly retailers may be encouraging customers to buy more than necessary by providing offers such as free postage or discounts. The survey results found that 22% of customers returned items they had bought on special offers such as these. This suggests that these perks from retailers are potentially detrimental as this may encourage more impulse buys that may cost them far more than they gain in sales.
Posted by Ellie
UK consumers feel increasingly frustrated and disappointed about returning garments.
Our research uncovered that fit was the main reason that consumers had to return items with a staggering 80% of returns being made for this reason.
Almost half of the customers in our sample admitted ordering the same item in multiple sizes in an attempt to overcome fit issues when buying online. However this may still not be enough as retailers are increasingly accused of not providing accurate sizing.
The Daily Mail recently put high street stores to the test and found that many retailers utilise “vanity sizing” to make consumers think they are a smaller size and therefore encourage them to buy more. The full article can be accessedhere
By using this method of sizing retailers may be creating more problems for themselves when it comes to e-commerce sales as this will surely only increase the number of returns they receive and consequently increase their costs.
Customers were also left frustrated by poor product description and or photographs on the retailer’s website contributed to 55% of returns:
There could be some improvements in photographs, measurements or articles, it can be difficult to tell an items exact colour, feel or fit.
Retailers should be more careful to avoid returns of this nature as this problem can be solved relatively simply if they are aware of a particular issue. This is where customer recommendations and reviews are key as this tool can inform the e-commerce team on any issues with a particular product. Also features such as the “catwalk view” used by e-tailer ASOS where customers can see the garment in motion and would allow customers to gain a better understanding of fit and style.
Survey results also demonstrated that customers are unaware of what happens to products when they are returned. Over a quarter of consumers never think about what happens to their returned items, and almost 75% assume they go back on the shop floor. However the returns process is often much more complex and costly than this and if consumers realised the implications of returning items they might buy more carefully in future!
Posted by Ellie
New York here we come…
We’ll be joining some of the most inspirational women and men in technology when we head to NYC to take part in the final of the Women 2.0 NYC Pitch competition.
As the only non-US tech company in the final, we’re not under-estimating the size of the challenge in shining out amongst some of the smartest startups on the planet – but we’ll be giving it our best shot!