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

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

Clear Returns visit Women 2.0 and IBM Smartcamp

Another week, another round of international events for the Clear Returns team. While half headed to the Women 2.0 competition in New York, the other half were off to Berlin for the European finals of IBM Smartcamp.

Although we didn’t come away with a prize it was still great to be a part of these prestigious events. We were honoured enough being the only international finalist selected out of 300 applicants at Women 2.0 and 1 of only 6 finalists in the whole of Europe at IBM Smartcamp.

It was great to hear from so many inspirational female entrepreneurs at Women 2.0, such as Sandy Lerner the co-founder of Cisco Systems and founder of Urban Decay as well as Geraldine Laybourne the founder of Oxygen Media. These talks included some great one-liners such as “If you can’t toot your own horn, toot another woman’s horn”. The mentoring sessions in Berlin also proved extremely valuable, with some mentors even tweeting their support for us to win!

Many, many attendees of these events complimented our presentations, and gave us great feedback on our idea. Also the guests were more than willing to help us out with our ask for contacts and introductions. We even had meetings set up for the next day within minutes of our presentation in New York!

Overall, another phenomenal week for Clear Returns!

Clear Returns pitching practice

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.

I-Com Big Data Venture Challenge Winners!

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…