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

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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Official launch with M&Co

This week Clear Returns officially launched their analytics software with retail partner M&Co, Scotland’s leading independent fashion retailer.

M&Co will take advantage of this unique predictive analytics software that can spot problem products, processes, suppliers and customer behaviours fast – giving them the ability to make cost-effective decisions quickly and reduce their return rates from the online channel.

CEO of Clear Returns, Vicky Brock commented:

“We’ve now proven our technology works with UK and European High St retailers. We’re a UK top 100 Startup, Big data Venture Challenge winner and IBM Smartcamp winner, beating tech startups from across Europe for IBM’s most coveted technology prize. We have launched our technology officially with customer M&Co – one of the largest, privately-owned fashion retailers in the UK.  The 3 month pilot project is aimed at delivering significant savings by reducing returns from the online channel.”

Nichola Toner, Website and Customer Services Controller at M&Co added,

We’re working with Clear Returns as it fits with our innovative approach to ensuring that we deliver quality and service to our customers at an affordable price

“M&Co has a very successful ecommerce operation, which is becoming increasingly important to the company-wide performance and we seek out and take a lead with best practices. Customer experience and operational efficiencies are essential to the profitability of the online channel and tackling returns are key to both.  We’re working with Clear Returns as it fits with our innovative approach to ensuring that we deliver quality and service to our customers at an affordable price.”

The aim of this project is to not only reduce return rates, but in turn deliver significant cost savings as well as profit margin increases – and we have every belief that this is just the beginning of a successful partner relationship between M&Co and Clear Returns.

Big data can’t just be big – it needs to be smart!

Big data and analytics are the buzzwords of the industry right now. It’s never been easier to collect vast amounts of valuable data from a vast array of devices and touchpoints – but how do retailers make the most of these kinds of technologies?

As retail becomes increasingly complex and competitive through the presence of ‘omni-channel’ and higher and higher demands from customers it has never been more crucial to collect and analyse your data. Michael Ross of eCommeracommented in an article published today that for almost every decision retailers are required to make there is data available to inform them.

It has never been more crucial to collect and analyse your data

Although big data can’t just be big – it needs to be smart. A computer program can quickly spot significant connections between data variables but these connections might not be meaningful. For retailers, understanding and interpreting the significant connections in a huge dataset can be daunting – especially when skills in this area are in great need of development.

To help retailers deal with this enormous task there has been an explosion in technology innovation in this sector. Yet Michael Ross of eCommera stated in the same article that simple business intelligence reporting is no longer enoughdecision intelligence is what is really required.

At Clear Returns we would take this one stage further, forecasting decision-making using big data. Neil Ashworth, CEO of Collect+, stated in a recent article by NACSOnline that retailers currently have access to hindsight and not real insight.

Retailers should be looking for solutions based on their business challenges that will allow them to make real-time decisions 

Retailers should be looking for solutions based on their business challenges that will allow them to make efficient and profitable real-time decisions. John Lewis is an excellent example of a retailer who has achieved exactly that, the article by NACSOnline details a project the company took on giving 30 British technology companies the opportunity to build solutions for their key business challenges – which became so successful that they are now making it an annual competition!

Tips on data analysis – Samples

Data analysis is only as good as the quality of the raw data you put in. To get meaningful results, you need to make sure you are analysing the right information. The following questions should help you make sure you are on the right track.

Do you have the right sample?

If you’re looking for information about a specific group or product, make sure your sample is relevant. For example, if your market is retirees, a poll of university students probably won’t yield much relevant information. If you are looking at broader trends, you probably want a true random sample.

Is your sample really random?

This is a common stumbling block for everyone from students to professional pollsters. Many factors can bias a sample—perhaps you’re only collecting data in one postcode (people in any given neighbourhood tend to have similar lifestyles), or are soliciting responses from a magazine whose readers have strong political views in a certain direction.

Is your sample big enough?

Thirty data points is the bare minimum you can use for a significant result. A larger set will return more reliable information. However, the benefits of increasing your data set size decrease after you’ve collected several thousand data points, so you don’t need to go overboard.