Jo Swinson joins Clear Returns as Non-Executive Director

Jo Swinson

 

Clear Returns appoints ex Government Minister, Jo Swinson, as Non-Exec Board Director

September, 2015 – Glasgow, UK – Leading retail returns intelligence solution, Clear Returns, today announced the appointment of former Business Minister, Jo Swinson, to its board as a Non-Executive Director.

Clear Returns, a predictive analytics service, was founded to help retailers prevent and minimise product returns, by enabling customers to keep more of what they buy.  Its intuitive use of data allows retailers to predict, identify and act upon high returning products and the triggers behind what is making them prone to refunds.  This means retailers can reduce the margin drain of returns and model their profits more accurately.

As a former Minister in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Jo brings extensive insight across the key areas which underpin Clear Returns’ business, including marketing, consumer affairs and fulfilment.

Having driven change across the competition landscape, corporate governance, customer rights and postal services during her ministerial tenure, Jo is well placed to advise on key challenges facing businesses and shoppers, and how Clear Returns’ innovative data analysis can provide solutions.  As an architect of the 2015 Consumer Rights Act and the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2014, which extended consumers’ rights to return goods bought online, Jo brings an inherent understanding of the problems product returns create both for shoppers and retailers.

Commenting on her appointment, Jo said: “The UK is a world leader in ecommerce, with consumers increasingly confident shopping online.  This presents a brilliant opportunity to grow sales, but the increasing rate of product returns represents a hassle factor for consumers and reduced profitability for retailers.  Clear Returns makes it easy for retailers to use returns data to improve business decisions.  Better targeted marketing and early identification of problem products will enable companies to reduce unnecessary costs and be more responsive to their customers.”

Julie Ashworth, Chairperson at Clear Returns said: “As we look to grow the business further, it was important that our next appointment to the Board brought both sound industry insight and strong business acumen, alongside marketing and PR experience.  Jo brings all this and more; no stranger to dealing with the very issues that shape industries, she will be an asset as our business looks to help retailers cut the £400billion problem that returns presents to the retail sector globally. We are delighted to be working with her in her role as a Non-Executive Director to the board.”

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About Clear Returns

Clear Returns enables retailers to cut the growing cost of customer returns, currently running at an average of 30% of multichannel orders in women’s fashion.

Our advanced data intelligence can detect problematic returns before they escalate into a serious cost-draining issue, enabling retailers to take preventative action. We don’t rely on historic data to analyse what went wrong after the event.

Through our solution, retailers can not only identify why customers return goods, but make changes in their product marketing, order management and fulfilment processes that ensure customers keep more of what they buy

Our award winning returns intelligence platform merges key data from ecommerce, stores, and warehouse systems to provide a consolidated and predictive view of the impact of returns on overall performance, along with prioritised, actionable outcomes. This means marketing, customer service, content management and even buying and discounting decisions can be based on intelligence that will grow ‘keeps’ and therefore grow profits.

 

For further press information, please contact Sarah Stevens at Fieldworks Marketing on:

sarah.stevens@fieldworksmarketing.co.uk +44 (0) 1892 786 914

 

Posted by / September 28, 2015 / Posted in News

Returns & why they should be on the retail CSR agenda

It really pains me, and I know it pains many people, to see the sheer amount of packaging and waste that goes into a delivery of a product ordered online.

I realise there’s a trade-off between the amount of packaging in the box and the quality of it on arrival. You don’t want to compromise on the packaging to the extent that the delivery arrives damaged, so it’s safer to over-package.  But of course, that has a huge cost and environmental impact.

These hidden social costs are even extreme when there is a return involved.  E-commerce returns for fashion in the UK average 30%. They can exceed 60% in Germany. You’ve got the customer opening all of this, so the packaging is very rarely in a condition that can be reused or salvaged for a future despatch. Not only that, if there is a return in that package, the shopper is going to be repackaging or bundling it up to go back in a van to go back to a warehouse where it’s got to be opened, cleaned, repackaged and finally made re-available for sale. That may involve it having to be transported to a different warehouse or back to store.

There’s potentially a significant loss of margin in that process. Packaging, road miles, you know, environmental impact, social impact all the way through this process of a return, yet alone the business impact from things like reduced margin, poor customer experience, and impact on profitability.

CSR and returns

It is this aspect of the social, economic impact, environmental impact of a return that both the shopper and the business are failing to give adequate consideration.

I believe a retailer serious about its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) will be arguing to the rest of its organisation, arguing to the board, ideally even educating some of the customer base, that returns at their current level are not sustainable. You are not doing anybody a favour –  including the customer when you are incentivising them to return and shop with the intention of returning  – because there are all these hidden costs.

These hidden costs are not necessarily borne by the retailer. They’re not necessarily borne solely by the shopper but they are ultimately borne societally. The cost of a van going two or three times to deliver a parcel because customers are frequently out, the cost of then picking that parcel up from the post office, or from the customer, back to a central warehouse, the cost of all the stuff that’s going on at the central warehouse, the product then being shipped by road to another warehouse where it gets back into the supply chain. The cost of buying more stock than required, simply to keep availability due to the sheer amount of stock out on loan.  And the waste involved in packaging and re-packing the same item time after time.

Potential impact on consumer behaviour

It is common to see returns having  a £30+ cost associated with them and that’s just direct costs of the handling, delivery and packaging, let alone externalities of environmental impact and waste. What I would like to see is organisations like John Lewis, Marks & Spencer’s and IKEA, who’ve been very forward in talking about CSR, environmental impacts and how they’re doing ethical sourcing, to also start talking about ethical returning.

Incentivising people to buy more and more, and return more and more is not, in my view, sustainable or ethical, and I think if the shopper was more aware of how much product goes literally into landfill, the r0ad miles generated, how much packaging goes to waste, how much stock gets cleared off the jobbers for disposal at a fraction of the cost price – they would be concerned and they would probably look at their own returning decisions.

Focussing the CSR agenda to include returns

I work in this industry, I’m obsessed with the data and I’m aware of what’s happening – but very, very few people are. So, it’s really important to me that returns get on the agenda of corporate social responsibility and that this is one of the things that CSR directors and retailers are talking about in the coming years.

Because returns at this level are not sustainable for anybody, not at business level, not on an environmental level and not at a wider society level.

Clear Returns build up to Customer Returns Summit 2015

Clear Returns CEO, Vicky Brock, discusses her attendance at the 2015 Customer Returns Summit in London on the 21st-23rd September.

Building on the success of 2014, The Customer Returns Summit is back for 2015 and is bringing together the most senior reverse logistics experts from leading retailers that include Debenhams, Shop Direct, Tesco, Panasonic, Argos, Sony and more. Clear Returns is pleased to be a sponsor at the event in 2015.

Clear Returns, CEO, Vicky Brock on why this is a significant event in the retail calendar:

“I think it’s incredibly important that there’s a retail industry event focused on what I believe is the biggest challenge for retail right now, particularly distance selling retail like e-commerce and TV shopping.

Returns globally is a £425 billion problem, £221 billion of which have been identified as preventable, which means if the retailers do something about it, if marketing is tackled, if customer processes/delivery is tackled, there is £221 billion worth of additional retained revenue on the table for retail profits.

Clear Returns are the industry leader in returns intelligence. It’s an absolute no-brainer for us to be there. Our absolute specialism and remit is that we help retailers identify, tackle and ultimately, prevent returns, and we do that by looking at the products, the customers, the marketing and the service processes that are driving up return rates, and more importantly, the interplay of those things.

Clear Returns are delighted to be attending the Customer Returns Summit once again and are looking forward to discussing many key aspects of developing customer experience and retail profitability in a multichannel retail context.  We look forward to meeting others in the retail and supply chain who have reducing returns to a manageable level on their corporate agenda.”

Returns kill retail profits. Clear Returns offers a pro-active solution. So, why not get in touch?

Contact Us HERE

OR

Email: info@clearreturns.com
Phone: 01415544175

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Clear Returns at IBM Big Data & Analytics event

Clear Returns are delighted to announce that our head data scientist, Regina Berengolts, will be speaking at the IBM Big Data & Analytics event which takes place at the IBM Innovation Centre in Winchester on the 23rd-24th September.

This event will focus on gaining a competitive advantage in your sector using big data and analytics techniques. Regina will be talking about her previous experience and the direction she believes big data is heading in the coming months and years.

For more information on this unmissable event, please contact KMennie@uk.ibm.com

Posted by / August 18, 2015 / Posted in News

Clear Returns featured on Consultancy.uk

Clear Returns are delighted to be featured on Consultancy.uk, the online platform for the consultancy industry.

This piece is dedicated to our work with IBM to improve the retail analytics landscape for numerous retailers around the globe. Since victory at the IBM SmartCamp in Dublin, Clear Returns have gone from strength to strength in helping some of the biggest names in retail save thousands on their return rates.

“The effects of returns can be relatively negative on the business from which the clothes were sourced. According to Clear Returns, in some retail branches 80% of customers that undergo a return experience, do not shop at that retailer again, while 1% of serial returners come to drive 10% of total return costs. The most interesting aspect of the research is that it is a relatively small number of products (7%) that account for a large part (50%) of total returns…”

The full article is available below:-

Clear Returns & IBM partner to improve retail analytics

Changing the retail mindset around reducing returns

Over the last three years, Clear Returns has been leading the way in retail returns analytics and using these findings to help retailers solve their ever increasing returns problems. Vicky Brock of Clear Returns explains how the company are trying to change the internal mindset of retailers when it comes to tackling returns.

How Clear Returns are starting to change the thinking about returns within retail teams

One of the really big challenges retailers face when tackling returns is getting internal buy-in from colleagues. The owner of the returns problem and the owner of the means to solve it are rarely in the same department, yet alone the same person.

As we have grown Clear Returns, continually innovating our technology, the most important step of all has been to help retailers make a shift their thinking around the scale of the commercial impact of tackling returns.

Working alongside our clients, one of the biggest shifts we have made is to stop talking about cutting returns and to start talking about helping the retailer, helping the shopper keep more of what they buy. Because, when you talk about cutting returns, or reducing return rates, it’s a really operational problem and it’s quite negative to the rest of the business. It has connotations of being stingy. The assumption is that a customer will only be happy with the most generous returns policy possible. And so you have a challenge as a retailer, how do I manage returns costs and processes, keep delivering excellent service to my shoppers, but still maintain profitability.

This is a flawed assumption. The idea that all of your shoppers are happy to have a return, and just giving them their money back is all it takes, is simply not backed up by the data. Just because you give them a generous returns policy and you make it free does not mean your shopper is happy. In a good 80% of your shoppers almost certainly wanted what they bought. It’s a minority, and I admit I’m one of them, who shop with the intention of returning. That group make their purchase decision at home and they’re not sensitive to returns. But the rest of the shopper base are different, including the group that actually hate to return. They will not shop with you again, regardless of a generous returns policy. They are angry at the fact that you, as a retailer, didn’t deliver on the promise.

There is a really important message for commercial, finance and operations teams to convey to their collegues – expecially to buyers, to trading teams, to marketers, which is “We’re here to help you ensure your customer keeps more of what they buy and keeps buying, because a return has an impact on future lifetime value, future spend, future basket size and trust.”

The operational cost of returns is important, the two-way cost of getting something there and back, the lost packaging, the handling, the cleaning, the lost margin because it’s now been discounted. All of that absolutely matters and is why we work to reduce and pre-empt returns. But overall to the retailer, the biggest commercial impact of a return is the customers you lose because they never buy again. So, our challenge all the way through and the thing that we probably advocate most strongly is this: it’s not a sale until the customer keeps it, and here’s how by tackling returns you can you help your customer keep more and keep buying.

Clear Returns are the solution. So, why not get in touch?

Contact Us HERE

OR

Email: info@clearreturns.com
Phone: 01415544175

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Stephen Budd of Clear Returns.

Video | Clear Returns on using retail returns data to boost profit

Stephen Budd and Vicky Brock of Clear Returns talk with IBM on retail analytics, big data and how insights into returns data leads to big uplift in retail profits.

IBM is a multinational and consulting corporation from the United States of America, with headquarters in locations such as New York. IBM manufactures and markets computer hardware and software, and offers services in hosting and consultancy.

The video can be found below from our official Clear Returns Youtube channel:

Clear Returns Shortlisted for Customer Insight Project of the Year

Clear Returns is proud to say that we were nominated for the title of Customer Insight Project of the Year for our unique work one of our clients. The nomination was part of the BT Retail Week Tech & Ecomm Awards, which were announced at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, London this past Wednesday, June 10th. This year there was a 75% increase in applications to the awards, showing the amazing growth in ecommerce and that Clear Returns has proven its commercial impact alongside the biggest players in retail technology and multichannel shopping.

We would like to extend a big congratulations to all of the winners of the BT Retail Tech & Ecomm Awards!

The BT Retail Week Tech & Ecomm Awards is a celebration of the retail technologies and innovations that are paving the way for the growing and dynamic multichannel retail landscape. By working with companies like Clear Returns, retailers are able to meet the changing demands of consumers and completely exceed customer expectations while growing their commercials. Clear Returns is dedicated to enhancing customer experience by using revolutionary software to analyse the reasons behind product returns and develop proactive returns solutions – it’s a problem that’s industry-wide and has been growing alongside the popularity of online shopping.

Clear Returns delivers major retailers at least £1 million of additional revenue for every £10 million returned, and our award nomination for the company’s outstanding work has proven Clear Returns’ commercial impact alongside the biggest players in ecommerce and multichannel shopping.

The Returns Problem

With online shopping seeing significant growth and changing customer demands, return rates for some distance sellers have been climbing well over 30%, and in some countries, such as Germany, return rates up to 60% are all too common. Clear Returns provided this leading TV shopping channel with returns analyses and solutions that caused them to achieve an even more competitive edge in the retail market, maximise customer lifetime value and grow revenue.

A bit about Clear Returns

Clear Returns began when CEO Vicky Brock noticed the increasing complexity of managing returns, especially among the growing popularity of ecommerce shopping. This lead to the development of Clear Returns’ groundbreaking returns intelligence software, which aggregates and analyses the reasons products were brought back to the store, allowing retailers to take fast and proactive action against returns issues. This technology lead the company to win a number of highly esteemed awards, including Tech All Stars, IBM SmartCamp, Innovation of the Year, the Angel Investment Award, and the FDM Everywoman in Technology Award. We’re very happy that the Retail Week Tech & Ecomm Awards had recognised the value in our innovative way of looking at retail – it’s not a sale until the customer decides to keep it.

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Why measuring retail sales & marketing performance has to factor in returns

Marks & Spencer have attracted unwanted publicity in the last few days, as they have quietly adjusted their figures to reflect that their online sales over the past four years were £500 million less than previously stated.

Why? It all comes down to returns and how the business attributed them internally. Clear Returns regularly see retailers assign the full upside to the online channel – revenue growth, record sales figures, stellar marketing conversion performance – yet barely factor in the extraordinary downside, in the form of high returns. Frequently we see retailers like M&S fail to account for the full online returns picture, so returns to store and all the operation-wide associated costs of returned do not get fully reconciled back to the online business.  This matters.

Returns from online are far higher than in store. They can exceed 35% for UK women’s fashion (and exceed 60% for fashion in Germany).  Some of these goods are returned by mail or Collect+ – thereby incurring two way postage costs. But where the retailer has the store base, as half of online returns – or more – will get returned in store.  These store returned goods rarely go straight back onto the shop floor – the store may not stock that range, the goods may need cleaning or repackaging, so they often require sending back to central warehouses to be processed which can take weeks.  In the case of certain product categories – like electronic goods – they simply cannot be resold as new.  Write-off rates are eye watering and this impacts the bottom line.

Clear Reurns marketing reconciliationYet depending on the level of information available internally around returns, the online channel may neither incur the costs for a high returning campaign or product line, nor see the data that would allow them to make changes to the way they buy or market goods in future.

And its worth remembering, that M&S’s £500million over the last four years doesn’t include the cost of marketing to acquire the sale that led to the return, it doesn’t include handling costs, it doesn’t include lost lifetime value from the customer finally fed up with having to return yet another order.

Clear Returns customers – and Marks and Spencer’s are not amongst them – do not have this problem.  They can reconcile returns back to the orginal marketing activity.  They can remove problem products from promotion fast. They can attribute refunds and returns costs to the correct channel. And they can make business decisions that grow retained revenue – thereby profits – across their whole business, rather than over-rewarding one channels performance at the cost of the whole business.  Find out more