Reduce and prevent returns in your ecommerce business with AI | E11

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Hi everyone welcome to another episode Of the Ecom Edge The first e-commerce podcast focused on How Enterprise Brands manufacturers and Teams like yours can be smarter with Data technology and resources to gain That very important Competitive Edge So are you losing sleep about the Growing rate of returns in your business And wondering what it is you can do About it today we’re going to speak with Navjeet Basin who has developed an Amazing platform to address this growing Leakage problem made worse because all The costs associated with returns are Usually spread across different Stakeholders you’re listening to the Ecom Edge brought to you by coveo and I’m your host Diane Burley navjee Welcome I’m thrilled to have you I heard you Speak at the lead uh in Brooklyn uh this Summer and I thought oh I’ve got to have Him on he’s he’s just got a great Product Um and you also have an amazing board of Directors and I’m bringing that up at The beginning of this because it looks Like you did extensive research when you Put together this product Um the chief returns officer tell me a Little bit about the background and why You went about uh building this platform Thanks for having me and uh you know you

Mentioned the board of uh advisors that We have and Given in early stage startup I wanted to Make sure we had the right advisors the Right Believers earlier on in our Journey as we built our product And as you already mentioned right our Product Chief returns officer Very laser focus on helping retailers Reduce returns and that’s the keyword There we’re not about managing or Processing returns we’re really about Helping retailers Prevent returns which ultimately leads To reduction of returns because as we’ve Seen over the last several years or even Decades now e-commerce has been growing In covert e-commerce grew through the Roof and by the way returns grew at the Same Pace it if not more In my past lives I had solved this Puzzle of returns reduction but it was With Brute Force this is about 10 years Ago and then when we started developing And focusing on building a technology Uh Technology technological advancements Had already happened in the industry Such as Artificial intelligence machine learning Even though they may sound like Buzzwords we have created a true Application of AI and machine learning To solve a problem which has existed for

Decades decades and always assumed as Cost of doing business so our goal is to Really have retailers think different About returns we just don’t need to Manage volume and you do and you do it At scale I mean because you mentioned Manually my family had a retail business And they always kept track if something If breakage if breakage is obviously one Of the causes of returns and they go oh You know let’s keep track of this Manufacturer maybe we won’t use it again And indeed that became part of their Buying decision but when you’re talking About such a the large brands that You’re working with you can’t do that Because there’s no real one stakeholder It’s Crossing it across the problem of Returns and getting to the root causes You you like to say is that it’s across Many different departments that are Impacted and bringing all that data Together has been really The challenge hasn’t it uh absolutely Diane and uh you know data definitely Has been a challenge and I think the Bigger challenge is how do you bring all Of those different departments together To solve a problem Right uh if you look at any retailer out There today or I would say more most of The retailers don’t have a true owner of Returns and when you don’t have a true Owner when you don’t have somebody

Accountable for returns guess what that Problem doesn’t get solved and so Absolutely data is essential data is Critical but how do you uh Corral the Troops how do you bring the you know Bring it as a strategic imperative for The retailer that you know what you got To take it seriously so where does it Fall in a in a in a company in fact I Before we were speaking I inadvertently Called it the the what I call it risk Officer right instead of returns officer Would it normally fall under risk a CFO Function or was it an operations I mean Who was responsible or If they bothered to stick their head up Out of the hole in the ground and said Hey I’ll take responsibility So sadayan uh I’ll go a little bit back Into the history right so returns have Existed since the catalog industry days Right and it was embedded in the head Hey assume you’re gonna get 10 15 Returns and that’s how the whole p l was Built That’s right so and returns have a Negative connotation attached and that’s Why nobody wants to raise their hand and Say hey I’m the chief returns officer And I am that gives gave us an Opportunity to name our product Chief Returns officer So to answer your question there is no True owner of returns today within the

Retail environment Processing falls on the supply chain Margin issue falls on the merchandising But as we all know right merchandisers Are the creative people bringing new Products to the market they want to feel Their consumer how their consumers are You going to use their product right so For them it is about Uh retaining margins but more Importantly hey let’s produce products That the customers are willing to buy And now that is where the distinction Happens Diane buying versus keeping the Product Right and what we found in our Journeys Is Returns are typically an indication of a Problem Upstream And could it be product quality related Issue product fit product sizing product Delivery or any other Factor around from The time the product is manufactured to Deliver to the consumer what is it what Is the number one problem typically or Is there no typical does it is it Dependent upon industry or category it Absolutely depends on the category and Even it depends on the operations of That retailer or the brand as well so Just for example right Merchandisers create the products they Believe their customers want And the marketers advertise that product

Now when you’re advertising the product When you’re taking it to the market Are you able to Define that product Accurately are you able to depict it Correctly so Customer because you can Touch and feel in the e-commerce world But can you get them as close to reality As possible or not and that’s when Issues start happening you know for Example If you have you know uh Uh a mini dress on a Model who’s sitting Right you get the issue right and Believe it or not these issues still Happen our technology is able to figure Those issues out and provide corrective Action so let’s talk about the the data That you’re bringing in you’re saying it Crosses over all of these usual silos so What kind of data uh tends to be most Impactful when you’re when you’re Bringing it all together See well uh then retailers typically Have pretty much all the data that are Platform users starting from the product Catalog transactional data the returns Data customer sentiment data Etc right Now Retailer sorry customers are always Eager to get their refund when they Initiate a return right so they’re not Going to give you the right reason They’re returning okay some will but for The most part they don’t give you the

Right return reason because their intent And even Retailer’s intent is to have Less friction during the returns process So But when you when we get out get data From product reviews social media data Survey data call center data now we are Talking unstructured data where customer Is giving you some indication some Signals about why they are returning So if we can combine that unstructured Data with the actual structure data like The transactions Etc now we apply hey What is the propensity of this product Being returned versus being kept and That’s when you know the the algorithms And the black box of Chief returns Officer kickson So one of the things that um I knew that the rate of returns had been Growing but one of the things that you Said was that 50 percent Um it’s been greater than 50 percent in Some fashion lines is that true that That is absolutely true Diane in fact in Uh especially in swimwear returns can be As high as 50 to 60 percent oh please Don’t let’s talk about swimwear that’s That’s like that’s evil even when you’re Trying it on you’re wondering why did I Do this I wouldn’t go there What is the last thing you returned Can I ask

Ed a pair of shoes a pair of shoes well And I’m going to say not a pair of shoes Pairs of shoes well you know and Zappos Made their Um their brand name because you were Able to order all these shoes and then Be able to to return them so I know that You know Amazon’s had very uh and all The big box stores have had very liberal Return policies and retailers had to Follow suit in fact we just did a survey Of 2 000 consumers and they said return Policy is really really key and if a Company doesn’t have a good return Policy they’re not going to buy from it So I mean how do you how do you remedy All these So Diane It’s the Amazons and the Zappos Of the world who have You can say spoil the consumer or train The consumer Behavior right so if me or You as a consumer are shopping on Amazon Then we go and shop at let’s say Express Or Abercrombie or wherever else right We are tuned to the expectations that Amazon has set now can it can a typical Retailer offer the same policies and Still make money Absolutely not right because you know You brought up Zappos Zappos excuse me as part of their Business model they have already baked In hey consumer may buy five pairs of Shoes and they may not even keep all

Five So they are already you know as part of Their pricing as part of their margin Calculation They have baked it in Whereas the other typical retailers and Brands you know they can’t afford to do That and so that’s a big mismatch now See what consumers really want is An easy option to return Should they have to return So I’m not saying all returns are bad in Fact if retailers can learn from early Returns And prevent future returns that’s what Really your business model is of our Technology you know uh it’s uh a lot of The people or a lot of times it is said You know returns drives traffic to the Store But guess what the moment customer has Made up their mind to return you’ve Already lost the margins on that Particular product now What you’re trying to do next is hey can I save some margin by either offering an Exchange or if they walk into the store Can I sell them something else but uh We’ve yet to see some good data around How much has that really impacted Overall sales for that given read here Now do you get Um as granular as looking at who’s a Good customer versus a more risky

Customer customers who return once in a While versus customers who make a you Know it’s a habit to to return all the Time and you can make other decisions About their customer like do you want Them as a customer At the end of the day that was the real Question is right You know in all the crms in customer Lifetime value calculations Uh returns have been included but they Haven’t been included to the level of Thinking hey don’t think of return as Just as a transaction you got to think Holistically about returns for that Particular customer So you know what we’ve built under the Covers is what we call keep score Which is scoring around hey what is the Propensity of this customer to keep the Product Because you know what once you Understand that metric or once retailer Understands that metric now they can Apply their strategies their tactics Around even  Learn How To Start Your Side Hustle The Same Way I Started Mine In Just 90 Minutes">marketing promotions Etc so It’s you know going to hey how do I Personalize the that individual’s Experience even better so I have higher Chances of them keeping the product So I heard you were a huge schitt’s Creek fan Good thank Jenny for that Um

So where would Maura fit when a keep Score how would she who would be a Better or worse customer David or Maura When it comes to returning products yeah Product right so she would be on top Having the highest keep score I don’t watch it my husband had to give Me that so thank my husband for that one I and I but I probably should it sounds Pretty funny uh Hey listen I want to Thank you so much you’ve you’ve got a Really exciting product I think it’s Something that’s going to be really well It’s obviously very imperative in the in The industry right now Um and I hope you’ll come back and and Speak with us again and delve a little Bit more about how you’re helping Customers and maybe also we can isolate Maybe before you go we can come up with One thing is there one area that the Chief return officer tends to give an Insight that was really a surprise to The different brands you’re working with Well uh uh You know there are tons of insight like I said earlier right it really depends The product category but It is so enlightening that you know People take it for granted that hey if a Customer is complaining at the call Center you know it’s a one-off but at Times it’s not a one-off because hey for A hundred customers only one customer

Called back Peer review their signal is worth its Weight in gold because you know what the Others ignored saying hey oh I have to Go through returns hassle but you know What if that person gave you right Feedback and that goes back into your Product development for the subsequent Seasons I mean that’s not just in season Returns impact right that’s a long tail Impact of returns insights or returns Intelligence All right well next time come in uh and And we can tell a little bit more into Some of what people are finding and uh I’d love to have you back on if you’re Willing Uh absolutely thank you Diane for having Me I appreciate your time navjeeb and And to all of you listening please rate And subscribe to the ecomm edge on your Favorite podcast streaming platform bye Everyone Foreign

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