Success Story is a Sourcing Journal feature that highlights innovative solutions across all areas of the supply chain.
While many people have used online shopping as a distraction during the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the main results has been an influx of merchandise returns, increasing costs and complexity for some retailers.
Typically, when shoppers buy clothes from stores, they only return about 5-10% of what they buy. However, that number is much higher for e-commerce and over 50% for fashion retailers, according to consulting firm Newmine. Returns have become a “trillion dollar problem” affecting the entire value chain, from operations to supply chain and inventory to customer experience.
To help combat costly returns while keeping customers happy, women’s workout and sportswear brand Title Nine has partnered with Newmine and as a result the brand has reduced merchandise returns by 18 % without adding additional staff to his team.
three year trip
According to Chrissy Ginieczki, CEO of Title Nine, Title Nine, a Northern California company owned and operated by women since 1989, found it “lacks visibility” into why customers were returning a significant amount of goods.
“When we started our journey back over three years ago, it was extremely manual, with one person paying attention,” Ginieczki said. “We continued to see return rates increase, and as returns are the most expensive and time-consuming element of the entire product and retail lifecycle, it has become a priority at treat.”
To stop the problem in its tracks, Title Nine implemented Newmine’s Chief Returns Officer, a retail intelligence platform focused on resolving merchandise returns.
“As the first to adopt the Chief Returns Officer, Title Nine embodies its own unique value and spirit of innovation,” said Navjit Bhasin, CEO and Founder of Newmine. “At a time when few retailers were talking meaningfully about reducing returns, they saw the opportunity to be at the forefront of innovation, and we’re proud to have helped them achieve incredible results.”
Prior to the partnership, reducing returns was a “very manual process” and Title Nine could not adjust products as they can today with “such a small team”. However, with the implementation of the Chief Returns Officer, Title Nine was able to reduce return rates in 90% of all product categories and increase the accessibility and visibility of its data.
Additionally, the Returns Manager offers several tools that help Title Nine in its day-to-day operations.
“The WatchList is one of the essential tools we use in our day-to-day operations of our merchandising teams,” Ginieczki added. “For example, we have a best-selling item that was starting to struggle. We caught it in Chief Returns Officer, and following relevant reviews of this product, we were able to watch it and see a 10% decrease in the return rate of this product.
Implementing a new tool or software can sometimes be difficult and overwhelming. However, Ginieczki said the solution is “pretty simple” to use.
“In the dashboards, you have the ability to easily access the necessary information very quickly,” added Ginieczki. “So even for non-technical users, the entry bar was low to use the tool effectively.”
Now Title Nine has visibility into its returns and has changed the way it values business.
“Returns are really the early warning system for customer satisfaction and what drives their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a product, so paying attention to it can pay off,” Ginieczki added. “Since returns play such an important role in retail, moving the dial just a few basis points can bring millions to the bottom line.”