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As Karthik Sridhar, founder and CEO of SupplyAI, tells it, returns comprise a new and emerging space in e-commerce. Sridhar’s ReturnSense platform helps brands refine the returns process and, at the same time, capture increased customer engagement via preferred options.
Loyalty360 caught up with Sridhar to talk about this emerging trend.
How does SupplyAI help companies recapture revenue across transactions that the platform predicts will have a high chance of being returned?
Sridhar: The ReturnSense platform, by SupplyAI, detects the likelihood of returns after a transaction goes through. Our algorithms parse through the orders placed by a customer, carefully evaluating each order item for the likelihood of them being returned.
Once detected, we surface the right set of options that a customer may be able to replace with their existing selection, that has a higher chance of satisfaction. These selections are then presented to the customer in their order confirmation email before the products are shipped out to them. Providing sharper options on their purchase gives more confidence to customers and reduces the chance of returns. Every avoidance of returns helps in recapturing of revenue for the retailer.
Can you talk to our audience about what artificial intelligence is and how it is used by your company to help brands from a customer engagement/customer experience perspective?
Sridhar: To provide a simple understanding of AI, it is a collection of methodologies and algorithms that mimic cognitive abilities of humans. They discern patterns of behavior, learn those behaviors and create responses for such pattern of behaviors.
Our application of AI ties down the process to decisions endpoints. We use AI to hold down certain decisions that otherwise takes a high order of human intervention. For example, learning from past shopping behavior and understanding if a purchase is going to be returned requires human cognition, but for millions of transactions, a machine is more adept at solving these. Once the machine learns enough about the customer behavior, it then decides which options are likely to improve a customer's experience of purchase and automatically presents them to the customers to choose.
We not only help e-tailers by giving customers confidence in their purchases but also provide superior customer experience. The personalized and individualized communication our platform triggers make sure that the customer has a better purchase experience, reduces post-purchase remorse, and ensures customer loyalty to the brand.
How does your company bring confidence to customers and influence their post-purchase behaviors?
Sridhar: Through SupplyAI, retailers can now vastly improve their unit economics while delivering exceptional customer experience. We interact with customers only during the post-purchase phase.
Here’s an example: Our system integrates with the retailer’s e-commerce platform. Once the customer has placed an order on the etailer’s website, our algorithm kicks in to detect return behavior. It then triggers a notification and lets the retailer know which product in the order basket is likely to be kept or returned.
We then send an order confirmation email to validate the customer’s choice. We give them replacement options in their current purchase with products they might have missed and those that are less likely to be returned based on our algorithms sharper recommendation. The customer can confirm their choice for replacement with a better product or choose to keep the order as is.
Our algorithm also detects other shopping patterns like ordering of the wrong sizes or fit from the usual orders, a customer’s choice of brands, colors or styles thus giving them better confidence in their purchase with less likelihood of returning those items. This entire process takes place after the buy button is clicked and before the product gets shipped, thus avoiding the operational costs of shipping a product and then having it returned.
How many companies are aggressive in trying to recapture revenue across transactions that have a high chance of being returned?
Sridhar: Returns is a new and an emerging space in e-commerce. The existing convention allows retailers to sell their returns inventory at a huge discount to liquidators or re-commerce websites, and they still have to deal with losses.
There are quite a few players in the market that are trying to manage the process of returns. Returns prevention, however, happens to be a newer niche and a radically different approach to managing the process of returns. The biggest advantage of using SupplyAI’s ReturnSense is not just the recapturing of the revenue and the cost avoidance that comes with it, but the bounty of newer, deeper insights into customer preferences and behaviors that are matched with product choices. Never before has a direct line on such relationship been drawn and we’re proud to be the first ones to do it.
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