Clear Returns MetaPack Returns Webinar

Retail Returns Insights Webinar Available Now

Are returns a headache for your retail business?

Clear Returns invites you to listen to the solutions explored in our recent webinar with MetaPack, Returns: The New Battleground for Retail.

The webinar was a collaboration between leading industry professionals, Clear Returns’ CEO Vicky Brock and MetaPack‘s Commercial Manager David Staunton,  who discussed solutions around returns strategies and analysis, which has become an increasingly complex issue amid changing customer behaviour and a dynamic retail landscape.

E-commerce sales are experiencing significant growth, so much growth that, for many retailers, distance selling has become difficult to sustain with return rates as they are. Only 16% of retailers have said they’re able to profitably fulfil omnichannel customer demand, while some retailers are seeing their return rates grow faster than sales.

Clear Returns’ data analytics has shown that 1 in 3 fashion items bought online in the UK are returned, and in some geographies, such as Germany, that rate can go up to 60%. But it’s not only fashion retailers that are seeing too many products come back to the store. Clear Returns works directly with clients from electronics, to jewellery – delivering returns intelligence to all non-grocery categories.

Returns are a growing problem for retailers across sectors and channels, especially since the damage done by returns goes beyond the initial refund – up to 80% of first-time customers who return will never shop with that retailer again, resulting in a significant loss of customer lifetime value. During this major shift in retail, it’s essential that distance sellers focus on maximising their returns strategies and customer experience with innovative technology and proactive solutions.

To learn more about these returns trends and issues and how Clear Returns’ and Metapack can help you tackle them, listen to the free webinar.

Get in touch directly at info@clearreturns.com to discuss how we can help your retail business grow its profits by helping your customers keep more of what they buy.

 

The future of retail and the returns that come from it

boxIn the rush to give shoppers what they want, when they want, and on whatever device, retailers have flocked to omnichannel offers and tempting promotions. But those offers will only cost them lost profits and lost future customers without investment in non-sexy back-end systems and logistics processes.

This past Christmas and peak sales period, many retailers were unable to deliver on the fundamentals of meeting customer promises – stock available to buy and timely order delivery. Retailers have been over-promising, especially when selling through their omnichannel networks, which has created a nasty feedback loop that exacerbated existing changes in customer behavior and exposed underlying weakness in back-end and logistics systems.

It’s no secret that the recent Christmas shopping chaos backlogged many retailers who didn’t invest in their back-end systems and was one of the reasons parcel delivery company, City Link, went bust. The backlog happened for a few reasons – the massive discounts in the lead up to Christmas kicked in earlier, continued longer and shifted January trading into the peak Christmas trading period. Also, a surge in early online purchases took product out of stock, much of which was later destined to come back as returns (in some categories e-commerce returns rates will have come close to 50 per cent).

With the ‘new shopping’ – major advancements in e-commerce and m-commerce selling that make a customer’s buying experience as convenient as possible – the future of retail is certainly here. Retailers want to offer their customers everything from click and collect services and free same-day shipping to lenient return policies, but without a proper strategy on how to meet these offers they are prone to disappointing customers and losing money from returned products that would have otherwise been kept.

Vicky Brock, chief executive of Clear Returns, said that ‘back-end tech and systems integration are not sexy and they don’t win shiny awards or get much PR, but they do allow businesses to survive, compete and thrive. If there’s a failure anywhere in the process it’s a failure of the retailer’.

Usually after customers receive their delayed products weeks after the holidays ‘they return them’, Brock said. ‘This year, that New Year returns spike happened during Christmas trading, which had an impact right across the supply chain and onto the shop floor, and it contibured longer due to those process failures. The thing a lot of people forget about is the impact of returned products on profits, and waiting weeks for a pair of boots to arrive in the mail only gives the customer time to reconsider their purchase or to find another pair of boots that they like better’.

As much as delays in delivery kept customers waiting in the lead up to Christmas, it also lead to a pile up of unprocessed returns, with little time to repackage them and get them back out on the shelves for consumers to buy. Next year we can expect that more emphasis will be put on the prediction and processing of returns, so that they don’t sit on a warehouse shelf decaying and losing value. Clear Returns helps retailers identify what will return and when, which will be information needed to avoid these customer experience and profit killing issues next year.

Clear Returns offer the solution to your return problems. Why not get in touch?

Contact Us HERE

OR

Email: info@clearreturns.com
Phone: 01415544175

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Are you targeting the right customers with your email marketing?

Recent studies revealed today indicate that customers are increasingly receptive to email marketing techniques, but are you targeting the correct groups?

A recent study by marketing firm Alchemy Worx shows that consumers are highly responsive to email marketing, estimating that for every extra monthly email sent to a pool of 5 million customers, retailers can make an additional £1.8 million. Better still, the Direct Marketing Association has found that customers have become more receptive to email marketing, especially when the email contains information about coupons or special offers.

To maximise this marketing opportunity you need to be able to identify your best customers

To maximise this marketing opportunity, however, you need to be able to identify your best customers. Not just in terms of what they buy, but what they actually keep. Your normal and high-value customers, who make up almost half of your customer base, keep the majority of their purchases and may welcome a chance to stock up on their favourite brands, especially if they know they’re being rewarded for their loyalty. Other shoppers, specifically the over-buyers who buy large baskets with the intent of returning the majority of items, may simply use special offers as an excuse to place enormous orders– which then turn into a big pile of costly returns for you to deal with.

Being able to distinguish types of customers and exclude expensive, over-buying shoppers from certain campaigns allows you to maximise profitability

Being able to distinguish these types of customers from each other and excluding those expensive, over-buying customers from certain email campaigns allows you to maximise profitability. Plus letting your high-value shoppers know you reward their loyalty by offering special perks means a better shopping experience for them. Finally, the receptiveness of customers to email interactions means customer service has the opportunity to contact these over-buyers to help direct them towards less costly options, such as exchanges or personal shopping services to help them find the products they want.

Posted by Shaylon

It’s not what they buy, it’s what they keep

Our CEO Vicky Brock discusses in our blog this week the new point of sale – it is not when the customer makes the purchase, it is when (in the privacy of their home) they actually decide to keep it.

It’s a bold assertion that I made at the Internet Retailing Conference, IBM Business Connect and IBM Smart Camp last week, but I believe it is absolutely true. At Clear Returns we have the data to prove that for several sizeable segments of online shoppers, the real shopping process actually starts post transaction – where the retailer’s influence is minimal at best. The sale is just the short list.

Retailer expertise has always been in enticing the shopper to buy more than they require… reassuring returns policies have been an essential part of that enticement

Just bring the shop to me…

Retailer expertise has always been in enticing the shopper to buy more than they require. It is no different online – recommendation engines, multi variant testing, fitting room tools, retargeting, intense front end optimising are all tools to push up conversion and increase basket value. Add to this extremely generous or free delivery terms, that customers have come to expect. Not forgetting of course, in the online environment, the reassuring returns policies that have been an essential part of that enticement – you’re ok, its safe, we do free returns.

So just buy – what have you got to lose?

Well nothing, it turns out – at least if you’re the shopper. So buy we all do – but the shopper is no fool. Many are aware of the marketing tactics encouraging them to buy more and buy more often, and they are fully aware of the discounting cycles of their preferred retailers.

When the goods arrive the tables turn. In their own home, with only minimal retailer influence, customers can then actually make the decision on what they’re going to keep, and if they’ve paid by credit card chances are a penny won’t even leave their account, so even cash flow is not a constraint.

When the goods arrive the tables turn. In their own home, with only the minimal retailer influence, customers then make the decision on what they’re going to keep

Really – what have they got to lose?

I confess, I shop exactly like this -and our data shows I am definitely not alone! This is not sustainable in any sense of the word. Now think about this from an operational perspective. Think about all the additional layers of costs associated with this kind of sale – fulfilment, road miles, failed deliveries, spoilage, reverse logistics, lost margin due to discounting, lost sales due to items being out of stock, repacking, cleaning – the list goes on.

Think about the waste. The shopper may assume the returned item goes straight back on sale (or as our research shows they have simply never thought about it) – but that is rarely the case. Goods have to get moved to central warehouses, they may require repacking and cleaning, they may simply not be worth selling again and go to outlet or disposal. Additionally, an item that has been returned is more likely to get returned again, so is less likely to keep its margin.

This focus on optimising sales, rather than optimising what is kept is not sustainable in business terms or any other terms. For those of you in front end optimisation let me ask you this, would you put up with a bounce rate of 50% on a key product landing page? Well a bounce rate of 50% is nothing compared to a product return rate of 50% – and yes, those do exist.

Optimising for keeps

The reason I founded Clear Returns and the rationale behind our technology is that I believe we should optimise for profit, not simply revenue. Let’s judge a sale and let’s judge product performance by when it is kept, not when it starts the fulfilment process.

ECHO alerts on problem products or content after fewer than 10 returns have been logged. SEER allows you to understand customers based on what they keep and tailor responses accordingly. SMART EXCHANGE retains more spend post sale. Why? Because the sale is just the beginning.

Returns may not be sexy, but keeps are in everyone’s interest!

Posted by Vicky

Christmas shopping – are you seeing the full picture?

Retailers know December as the month of high sales and high profits as customers Christmas shopping is completed, but it can also be a month of disappointment for customers.
High value customers cause a wave of returns weeks before Christmas

From the first week of December, the majority of returns surprisingly come from loyal, high-value customers. This group causes a wave of returns weeks before Christmas and weeks before retailers would expect to see unwanted gifts come flooding back. This leaves retailers having to issue a large number of refunds as well as deal with the costs of processing returns. At this busy period retailers top priority will be getting online parcels out of the warehouse, not processing these returns. This means stock will sit idle, depreciating in value, and not being put back into the system for customers to buy – which can leave customers disappointed if they find the item they are looking for is ‘out of stock’.

Accounting for these losses from Christmas shopping returns is particularly important in the current economic climate. The BBC reported that UK retailers suffered drops in sales last December, even with an increase in online shopping. Also, these figures don’t take into account the mid-month spike in returns we have seen, or the Boxing Day returns rush.

Bringing customer service strategies from stores into the online environment would help convert returns into exchanges

The good news for retailers is that returns from loyal customers present an opportunity for customer service to save the day. Bringing customer service strategies from brick-and-mortar stores into the online environment would help convert these returns into exchanges, salvaging profits and enhancing the customer experience.

For more information on the impact of returns throughout the Christmas shopping period and the driving forces behind them you can download our whitepaper when it becomes available very soon or sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date.